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PTSD caused by the ICU experience


Post-traumatic stress can happen even after a visit to the ICU. New research shows that women are more likely than men to experience this particular type of PTSD and the psychological and physical ‘follow up’ care can reduce the effect and subsequent post-ICU depression.

Not only does the illness and trauma meant to be treated at the ICU cause stress, anxiety and depression, but the very nature of the ICU, where lifesaving treatments are given, can cause intense anxiety and fear. Researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital compared the records of patients’ recovery both before and after post-ICU follow up therapies were put in place at the hospital.

The therapy included non-compulsory meetings at three, six and 12 months after ICU discharge. Treatment was with a nurse, physician and a physiotherapist, included revisiting the ICU and in some severe cases, being referred to a psychiatric clinic for further therapy.

Before the follow up care, women had higher scores then men on the post-traumatic stress tests. After the initial follow-up, women’s scores dramatically dropped. The follow up therapy had no effect on men.

“In general, for the same event, women are twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, recover more slowly, and are more prone to suffer long-term effects. We found this was also true in ICU survivors. The women with the highest IES scores were the ones who were most helped by the follow-up scheme. While it is not clear whether the scheme only helps patients at severe risk of PTSD, it does mean that these people have access to the treatment they need,” said Dr. Peter Sackey who led the study.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Critical Care


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