An ICU stay can make patients prone to develop anxiety: Study
June 3rd, 2016
Filed under: Anxiety disorder, depression by Rachael

A hospital stay can be a nightmare for many. And if someone is battling a life-threatening disease, a stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) can be daunting as it requires a lot of support, and often courage, to face the complexities involved in the recovery process. In fact, many people are unable to cope with stressful episodes during their stay in hospital.

A recent study by the Johns Hopkins University suggested that depression and anxiety-related disorders are highly prevalent among people undergoing treatment for a deadly disease, especially in an ICU. The situation becomes significantly alarming if the sufferer is a female, young and unemployed, according to the study.

Female, young and unemployed at higher risk

Published in the journal Critical Care Medicine in April 2016, the study said that younger, female patients who survived acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and unemployed were at a higher risk of contracting a psychiatric disease during their hospital stay.

As part of the study, the researchers enrolled 613 participants diagnosed with ARDS who had to stay at the ICU for treatment. Of those recruited, 316 were female and 297 male with an average age of 49 years. After following them up for six months, the researchers observed that 36 percent participants displayed visible signs of depression, 42 percent were found to experience anxiety and 24 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Even after 12 months, no improvement was observed in any of these symptoms. Of those who fought depression, anxiety or PTSD at six months, nearly 57 to 66 percent still showed similar psychiatric illnesses even after 12 months, which strongly indicated that the symptoms didn’t subside with time and in fact, became more pronounced, with the majority, nearly 63 percent, experiencing two or more symptoms at the same time.

It was also observed that patients who didn’t work before being admitted to the ICU were at higher odds, nearly 26–40 percent, of developing psychiatric symptoms soon after being discharged from the hospital. Likewise, patients who consumed alcohol or were treated with strong opioids during their ICU stay were at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.

“We need to pay more attention to the psychiatric vulnerability of ICU patients in recovery who are women, younger and unemployed prior to hospitalization, not just look at traditional measures of risk, such as greater illness severity and longer length of stay,” said Dale Needham, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study is an important step toward increasing awareness and developing improved treatment options for patients who suffer from psychiatric problems during their ICU stay.

Looking for ways to lead a happy life

Though depression and anxiety disorders are quite common, many people need intensive treatment to get better. A person with anxiety disorders can experience symptoms like loss of interest in daily activities, changes in sleep pattern, anger or irritability, loss of energy and so on.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults (18 percent) of the population. Surprisingly, many even fail to realize their problem.

Medication and therapy are available to deal with anxiety so that one can continue to live happily. If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder, the Anxiety Treatment Advisors Colorado Helpline can help you find the best anxiety disorders treatment in Colorado. Get in touch with one of our representatives at the 24/7 helpline number 866-891-2539 to get an easy access to the right anxiety disorder treatment center.


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