Post-traumatic stress disorder following a critical care admission
Up to 1 in 10 of all critical care patients experience symptoms suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms include flashbacks, feeling as if the episode is happening again, increased anxiety and avoidance of thinking or talking about a situation. It is quite common to experience some of these symptoms after a very stressful experience but they normally become less frequent over time.
When I finally left critical care to start my recovery process I struggled a lot. I would question everything. What did I do wrong? What happened? Why did it happen? I would have flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety, and nightmares. I struggled physically, emotionally and mentally. I now know that this was PTSD.
In PTSD these symptoms do not get better over time and can even get worse. PTSD can have a very negative impact on quality of life. There are however successful treatments for this condition. Affected patients often require expert psychological therapy to help them move on with their lives. Screening questionnaires may help diagnose this problem and if PTSD is suspected expert help can be arranged.