Promethazine for the treatment of agitation after electroconvulsive therapy: A case series

Tali Vishne, Revital Amiaz, Leon Grunhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: Agitation after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is observed in approximately 7% of patients. Promethazine is an antihistamine with sedative properties that has no antiseizure effects and therefore can be administered before ECT to prevent the onset of agitation. In the current study, we present a series of 8 patients who reacted to ECT with severe agitation and improved under the treatment of promethazine. Methods: Eight patients were included (5 women, 3 men), ages 22 to 77 years. All patients showed severe post-ECT agitation as demonstrated by severe restlessness, crying, or mumbling loudly. Seven of them required the administration of intravenous midazolam. ECT was given according to established clinical protocols at the Sheba Medical Center. All patients were prescribed either 25 to 50 mg of promethazine 2 hours before the treatment to avoid agitation. Results: All 8 patients suffered from extreme agitation after ECT treatment, and 7 required the administration of intravenous midazolam. After a clinical protocol, these patients were prescribed 25-50 mg of promethazine orally 60-120 minutes before the ECT. Improvement was observed in all patients both immediately post-ECT and also in their overall sense of well-being after the ECT. No patient complained of adverse reactions to the promethazine. Most patients reported a relief in pre-ECT fears. Conclusion: In this small case series, we found that promethazine can be used to prevent post-ECT agitation. Further double-blind controlled studies are needed to better evaluate the usefulness and appropriateness of promethazine in the prevention of pre-ECT fears and post-ECT agitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-121
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of ECT
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Agitation
  • ECT
  • Midazolam
  • Promethazine


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