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DEPRESSION AND ICU

ANCHOR LEAD: MANY PEOPLE EXPERIENCE DEPRESSION FOLLOWING AN ICU STAY, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Perhaps it’s logical that someone who has had a life-threatening illness requiring an intensive care unit stay would experience depression down the road, but Johns Hopkins researchers are attempting to understand why.  Joseph Bienvenu and colleagues followed 160 patients who survived at least six months after their ICU stay.

BIENVENU:  We found that patients on very high doses of benzodiazepines in the ICU were more likely to have substantial depressive symptoms six months after their diagnosis of acute lung injury.  What we’re not clear on whether or not benzodiazepines are causally related to depression or whether they actually reflect a patient’s anxiety or agitation level in the ICU.      :27

Benzodiazapines are typically used to keep patients sedated enough to remain calmly on a respirator, but additional Johns Hopkins studies have also shown that their use compromises muscle function.  Bienvenu says most physicians are trying to keep the dose as low as possible.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey..


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