Patients who are treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) and survive are at increased risk of depression, a new study suggests.
And depression in ICU survivors was linked with a higher risk of death in the next two years, researchers found.
More than half of former ICU patients reported symptoms of psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression and PTSD, according to the study published in Critical Care.
“Psychological problems – anxiety, depression, PTSD – after being treated for a critical illness in the ICU are very common and often complex when they occur,” said the study’s lead author Robert Hatch, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Intensive Care Medicine and Honorary Clinical Research Associate at the University of Oxford.
“Patients who reported symptoms of depression were 47 percent more likely to die from any cause during the first two years after discharge from the ICU than those who did not report these symptoms.”
Hatch and his colleagues followed 4,943 ICU patients who had spent at least 24 hours in one of 26 ICUs in the UK between 2006 and 2013. The patients were asked to fill out questionnaires at three and 12 months following discharge from intensive care.
The questionnaires probed for signs and symptoms of psychological disorders.
When the responses were analyzed, the researchers determined that 46 percent of the patients were experiencing symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of anxiety, 40 percent reported depression symptoms, and 22 percent reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Often, patients had symptoms of more than one disorder. In fact, 18 percent of the patients met the criteria for all three psychological conditions.
Patients who reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression were 47 percent more likely to die from any cause during the first two years after discharge from the ICU than those who did not report these symptoms.
Increased risk of death was not associated with symptoms of anxiety or PTSD.