One-third of patients develop depression after ICU discharge

A study, published the Journal of Hospital Medicine, shows around a third of intensive care unit patients display symptoms of depression at their initial visit to a clinic designed for ICU survivors, even if they have been prescribed antidepressants.

Researchers screened 204 ICU survivors, 18 years or older, for depressive symptoms with a standard depression test. The patients were tested during their first visit to Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health Critical Care Recovery Center after ICU discharge.

The researchers found young age was a significant risk factor for developing post-ICU depression. Additionally, African Americans given antidepressants were also at a higher risk of depression.

"Spending time in an ICU, where very invasive things happen quickly, is by its nature a very anxiety-provoking experience for many people, no matter their age, ethnicity or level of education," said study first author Sophia Wang, MD, who is a researcher at the Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Science and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Indiana University School of Medicine, both based in Indianapolis.

The next step is to investigate why being young and/or African American increases a patient's risk for post-ICU depression as well as how to effectively provide treatment, noted Dr. Wang.

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