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Stress Disorder May Be Common Among ICU Patients on Ventilators
Date:3/1/2013

ting to kill her," Bienvenu noted.

PTSD can also cause people to feel numb or detached. They can also be irritable, easily startled and have trouble sleeping. PTSD can affect people's quality of life and prevent them from doing their job or going about their normal daily routine.

Of the survivors who developed PTSD, 62 percent still had symptoms of the condition at their two-year visit and half were taking psychiatric drugs to treat their symptoms. Meanwhile, 40 percent of the patients with PTSD saw a psychiatrist within two years of their stay in the ICU.

Patients with PTSD who were depressed before they were put on a ventilator in the ICU were twice as likely to develop the condition. The longer the patients remained in the ICU, the more likely they were to develop PTSD symptoms.

Patients who developed sepsis (a severe response to infection), or were treated with high doses of opiates during their ICU stay, were also at greater risk for developing symptoms of PTSD.

Why ICU patients develop this condition remain unclear. The researchers suggested that inflammation, which can cause a breakdown in the blood-brain barrier, may change how the brain is affected by drugs commonly prescribed in the ICU.

Patients in the ICU with risk factors for PTSD should be informed about the condition, the researcher concluded. Other studies have shown that ICU diaries, in which nurses and family members record daily events during patients' treatment, can ease their PTSD symptoms and help them make better sense of their memories.

Each year, nearly 1 million patients in the United States are put on ventilators in an ICU and 200,000 develop acute lung injury.

The study was published online in Psychological Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about post-t
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