• Hospital Stays Can Trigger PTSD


    A new study in Scientific American reports that as many as one in three people who experience a stay in a hospital intensive care unit will experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins University checked in with survivors of a life threatening lung injury for two years after they were discharged from the ICU. The investigators found that slightly more than one in three in the group suffered from the often debilitating anxiety disorder. Patients who had a history of depressionwere more likely to end up with PTSD after their hospital stay.

    As is common in PTSD, the patients had flashbacks of their experiences, such as thinking they were going to die. But these cases were also unusual because the delirium caused by sedation and organ failure led to “nightmarelike” delusions and “distorted memories,” explains study lead author Joseph Bienvenu. The patients mistook a catheter in the bladder, for example, as a sexual assault, and reported “memories” of events that never occurred, such as plots to murder them.

    Researchers emphasize the importance of follow-up care after invasive medical procedures and intensive care stays after patients leave the hospital.

    If you believe you may have PTSD related to a medical stay or procedure, consult with a traumatologist or mental health professional.

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