Depression, Disability Can Follow ICU Care:
FRIDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Depression and new physical
problems are common among patients released from the intensive care
unit after treatment for a potentially deadly condition called
acute lung injury, a new study finds.
The findings may also apply to ICU patients with other types of
disease or injury who get hooked up to breathing machines,
according to the researchers.
"When people are discharged from the ICU, we tend, understandably, to focus on their physical health, but our data tell us we need to focus on their mental health, too," study leader Dr. O. Joseph Bienvenu, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.
"Depression can make recovery much more difficult. Identifying depressive symptoms early -- and treating them -- could make a real difference in how patients fare physically in the long term," he added.
The researchers looked at the depression levels and physical
abilities of 186 survivors of acute lung injury three, six, 12 and
24 months after they became ill. Physical abilities included
whether people could perform basic tasks of daily living such as
shopping, preparing food and using the telephone.
Forty percent of the patients developed depressive symptoms
during the two years of follow-up, even though they had not
previously experienced such symptoms.
In addition, 66 percent of the patients developed new physical
impairments during the follow-up period.
The average age of the patients in the study was 49, and they
should be in the prime of their lives, the researchers noted.
Instead, many had become disabled and unable to return to work.
The researchers will continue to follow these patients to find
out if the depression symptoms and physical impairments persist
beyond the initial follow-up of two years.
The study was published Dec. 9 in the
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care
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