PTSD common in ICU survivors

Image source: Operating Room @ Roosevelt Hospital, NY City, 1900

PTSD can drastically impact a person’s ability to communicate and connect with others, truly interrupting their lives and preventing experiences of joy,” says Joe Bienvenu, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “This is why our findings are important and why it’s so critical that we continue to research ways to prevent PTSD.”

Similar research was done in years past, but there was much less data at that time. “We now have a larger data set to review and learn from,” says Ann Parker, a fellow in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “These data could help us develop better prevention methods for ICU-induced PTSD.”

Through a systematic literature review, the research team looked at 40 studies of 36 unique patient cohorts with a total of more than 3,000 patients who survived a critical illness and ICU stay. The researchers excluded patients who had suffered a trauma, such as a car crash, or brain injury, because those patients’ cognitive and psychological outcomes can be affected by the injury itself, rather than the critical illness/ICU stay. They found that the prevalence of PTSD in the studies ranged from 10 to 60 percent.

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*It never occurred to me that is could happen after an ICU hospital stay.



10 thoughts on “PTSD common in ICU survivors

  1. mother wintermoon says:

    This a good topic, that definitely needs more awareness. Many doctors, including ER doctors, are clueless about the connection between hospital stays for surgery and protracted illness (cancer, chronic disease) and PTSD. Just ‘regular’ stays in the hospital, (not in ICU), can result in PTSD. Hospitals are traumatic places.


    • cherished79 says:

      True, but all of their interest and concentration centers on their skill as a specialist/surgeon. The aftermath is extremely important when follow-up is required, and at that time if there is concern, it should be recognized whereby referral to psychology dept.


      • mother wintermoon says:

        The problem I’ve seen (as a patient advocate) with far too many physicians, is their total failure to even acknowledge and recognize PTSD as a real and prevalent outcome of chronic illness and hospitalizations.

        I’ve seen physicians scoff at the idea and act as if the patient is abnormal if they mention it. This marginalizes, trivializes, and invalidates patients with medical-induced PTSD. Women in particular are more likely to be trivialized and invalidated within the medical system.


  2. robertmgoldstein says:

    This is common sense. I wonder if the stigma against mental illness is related to a stigma against the expression of emotion in general. So much of what we do revolves around pretending that we
    are in control of everything.


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