One in three former ICU patients show symptoms of depression, study finds

An analysis of reports on more than 4,000 patients suggests that nearly one in three people discharged from hospital intensive care units, or ICUs, has clinically important and persistent symptoms of depression, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Symptoms can last for a year or more for some patients and are more likely to occur in people who have a history of psychological distress before an ICU stay, the investigators say.
The prevalence of depressive symptoms in this population is three to four times that of the general population, says study coauthor O. Joseph Bienvenu, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Not only can people with depression have slower physical recovery, but they also experience financial strain because they often cannot return to work and their caregivers must stay home with them,” Bienvenu says.
Psychological symptoms occurring before an ICU stay and psychological distress experienced during the ICU stay or hospitalization were the risk factors most associated with depressive symptoms after hospital discharge, the review found.
“It’s very clear that ICU survivors have physical, cognitive, and psychological problems that greatly impair their reintegration into society, return to work, and being able to take on previous roles in life,” says senior study author Dale Needham, professor of medicine at JHU’s School of Medicine. “If patients are talking about the ICU being stressful, or they’re having unusual memories or feeling down in the dumps, we should take that seriously,” Needham adds. “Healthcare providers, family members, and caregivers should pay attention to those symptoms and make sure they’re not glossed over.”
More than 5 million patients in the United States are admitted to ICUs each year, Needham says.

John Hopkins Medicine