A substantial number of patients who have been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) face both physical, cognitive and mental impairment related to their critical illness up to years after discharge. Up to half of the patients undergoing a prolonged ICU admission report symptoms of psychopathology afterwards, which hampers their full recovery. Complaints often include an affective component: symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are common. The development of psychopathology is multifactorial and depends on patient characteristics (e.g., female sex, history of psychiatric disease), and ICU-related factors (e.g., time on the mechanical ventilator, administration of sedatives), and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction. Some preventive and therapeutic interventions are available and a timely and multidisciplinary approach may help to reduce psychopathology after ICU admission.
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