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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 18, 2020
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Psychological distress, ICU stay increase COVID-19 patients’ risk for developing PTSD

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Patients with COVID-19 may be at increased risk for developing posttraumatic stress symptoms, according to study results published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“Very few studies have investigated mental health issues in patients with confirmed COVID-19, while it is well known that surviving a critical illness can lead to psychological distress and [PTSD],” Mathilde Horn, MD, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at the University of Lille in France, and colleagues wrote.

Results of prior studies suggested that patients with COVID-19 infection were at high risk for developing PTSD because of the poorly understood nature of the disease and its associated risk for premature death, as well as the lack of vaccines or effective medical treatments at the time these studies were conducted. In the current cohort study, Horn and colleagues sought to evaluate the prevalence of and risk factors for PTSD among this patient population. They analyzed data if 180 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-10 at a single hospital in France between March and May. They used the Impact of Event Scale-6 items (IES-6) to measure symptoms of psychological distress 3 weeks after onset of COVID-19 symptoms and evaluated PTSD symptoms using the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) 1 month later. A total of 138 patients completed both evaluations.

Results showed 70.4% of the 180 patients required hospitalization, with 30.7% admitted to the ICU. PTSD prevalence was 6.5%. Psychological distress at the onset of the illness and an ICU stay served as predictive factors of PTSD.

“The identification of the [two] main risk factors for PTSD (ie, psychological distress and a stay in the ICU) should allow for improvements in the detection of at-risk patients to propose preventive interventions,” Horn and colleagues wrote. “This study paves the way for future investigations of the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic on patients’ mental health. More precisely, this suggests that patients affected by COVID-19 should be considered as at-risk patients for developing PTSD and should benefit from regular monitoring to detect as early as possible the occurrence of posttraumatic symptoms.”