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