About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents a summary of the Scottish electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) Accreditation Network (SEAN) data for 2022/23.

Main points

  • For 2022/23, 74% of treatment episodes of ECT administered were completed as planned, compared to 63% in 2021.
  • There was a small increase (16% from 14%) in patients receiving lifesaving ECT in 2022/23 compared to 2021.
Image caption Percentage of patients receiving ECT, by age group and sex (2022/23)
  • Just under half of treatment episodes (48%) involved patients deemed to have capacity to understand and who were able to give consent. This is slightly lower than that for 2021 (51%) and slightly higher than that for 2020 (44%).
  • A significant improvement following treatment was observed in 86% of patient episodes in 2023. This year’s figure is not directly comparable to earlier years because a different clinical rating scale was used (clinical global impression rather than Montgomery–Åsberg depression rating scale).
  • The most common condition requiring ECT treatment involved a diagnosis of depression without psychosis, recorded in 37% of episodes, which is similar to 2021.
  • In 2022/23, treatment resistance to antidepressant medication, at 48%, remained the most common indication for treatment. This is slightly higher than the 45% reported in the 2021 data but lower than the figure for 2020 (54%).
  • Headache remains the most common side effect after ECT, reported in a fifth of treatment episodes (20%) in 2022/23. This is lower than the figures reported in 2020 and 2021 (28% and 24%, respectively). Headache has consistently been the most common side effect reported each year.


SEAN began in 1996 as a national audit project examining the clinical practice of ECT in Scotland.

SEAN engages support from various clinical staff, including consultant psychiatrists, consultant anaesthetists, clinical psychologists, ECT nurses, operating department practitioners and recovery nurses.

Our ambition is to work towards increasing the opportunities for gathering the experiences of service users in a way that suits them best.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.sean@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 20 November 2023
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