HealthDay News — A significant number of former intensive care unit (ICU) patients experience depression, according to a review published in the September issue of Critical Care Medicine.

Dale Needham, MD, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues reviewed 42 studies that included 4 113 former ICU patients in the United States and United Kingdom.

Two to three months after being discharged from the ICU, 29% of patients had at least mild depression. Six months after discharge, rate of mild depression was 34%. One year after discharge, 29% of former ICU patients were mildly depressed. Moderate to severe depression was present in 17% of patients 2 to 3 months after discharge, and persisted 6 months after discharge. 

Continue Reading

By 12 to 14 months, the rate of moderate to severe depression dropped slightly, to 13%. The risk of depression was highest among patients who had psychological symptoms before their ICU stay and among those who had psychological distress symptoms while in the ICU or hospital. These symptoms include anger, nervousness, and acute stress symptoms such as emotional detachment or flashbacks.

“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,” Needham said in a university news release. “Health care providers, family members, and caregivers should pay attention to those symptoms and make sure they’re not glossed over.”

Related Articles


Rabiee A, Nikayin S, Hashem MD, et al. Depressive symptoms after critical illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care Med. 2016;44(9):1744-53.