The emotional aftermath of critical illness/injury is something that often catches people by surprise but can have a significant impact on daily life. People who have been critically ill/injured often describe difficulty with anxiety, depression, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as nightmares, flashbacks, and insomnia.
The emotional disruption seen with PICS is complex and may stem from various causes. A history of anxiety and depression before critical illness/injury may be acutley exacerbated. Prior life trauma may place people more at risk for post-ICU PTSD symptoms. And the reality of how critical illness/injury has changed ones life - fatigue, pain, altered work/school performance, etc. - can catch people off guard, starting a cycle of anger, anxiety, and depression.
I am a year out…I cry at the drop of a hat. I went back to work full time only to find I cannot physically do the work due to the pain.
- ICU Survivor via Mayo Clinic Connect
It may not be possible to fully avoid the negative emotional effects of critical illness, but there are steps that one can take to lessen the impact. Below are some helpful tips to guide you:
There is an expanding global network of Peer Support groups sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine. A list of the current groups can be found by following this link: Peer Support Group Directory
The internet and social media can also be a powerful resource for connecting with others. Two sites that offer online support can be found here:
Come back next month when we discuss Post Intensive Care Syndrome and the effect on the family.
Liked by Lisa Lucier