ICU Stays Are Linked to Depression in Johns Hopkins Study

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Nearly one in three patients released from the Intensive Care Unit could be diagnosed with clinical depression, a new Johns Hopkins study suggests.

The Hopkins researchers analyzed studies dating from 1970 to 2015 that all together tracked more than 4,000 people after they left the ICU. Nearly one third of them had symptoms of persistent clinical depression within one month to one year after their discharge; unsurprisingly, those who had issues with depression before were more likely to report depression afterward, too. Having a stressful time in the hospital was another factor that tended to be linked to depression after discharge.

Post-ICU depression is of particular concern to doctors, since depressed patients are generally slower to recover; their depression might also cause a financial burden if it renders them unable to return to work, study authors pointed out.

“If patients are talking about the ICU being stressful, or they’re having unusual memories or feeling down in the dumps, we should take that seriously,” the study’s lead author Dale Needham told the Hopkins Hub. “Health care providers, family members, and caregivers should pay attention to those symptoms and make sure they’re not glossed over.”

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