Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Plagues ICU Patients

soldier with PTSD

The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is often assumed to have some relation to the individual’s time in a warzone or some other violent activity that generates an emotional response. New research suggests that PTSD can set in after other stressful situations.

A recent Science Daily release shared the findings of a study conducted by a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine physician. According to this research, one in three individuals who survive an intensive care unit stay and required mechanical ventilator use demonstrated significant PTSD symptoms lasting up to two years.

Now, this researcher suspects PTSD may be as common or more so among ICU patients. The area will need additional attention and research as doctors and psychiatrists don’t fully appreciate the disease or the impact it can have on patients, whether they are ICU, wartime or violent act survivors.

While the physical challenges may improve for the ICU patient, the mental symptoms may linger. Without making this element a part of the conversation with a physician, a significant risk for the patient may be missed.

The mental anguish may also be more extreme for the ICU survivor. These individuals will often experience flashbacks or hallucinations of things they thought happened in the hospital that never occurred. These “memories” of horrible things that didn’t happen can lead to intense mental challenges for the individual.

There are a number of suspected reasons as to why these individuals experience such delusions, including the sedatives and narcotics they are given while attached to breathing machines and other devices. But as the body repairs itself, the mind is still struggling to make sense of reality and imagination.

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