Post-traumatic stress disorder in medical settings: Focus on the critically ill

O. Joseph Bienvenu, Karin J. Neufeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The relevance of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) concept to medically ill patients is becoming increasingly clear. Some medical conditions (e.g., rheumatologic diseases) are likely related to PTSD indirectly. Others, such as myocardial infarction and critical illness/intensive care unit (ICU) treatment, are likely traumatic stressors. Importantly, PTSD seems to be a potent risk factor for fatal and nonfatal cardiac events. Risk factors for medical illness-related PTSD appear similar to risk factors for PTSD in general. PTSD is particularly common among survivors of critical illness and ICU treatment. Further research is needed to determine how specific ICU interventions (e.g., administration of benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, and catecholamines) affect PTSD risk. In the meantime, given the negative impact of PTSD on patients' quality of life, it is important for psychiatrists and other clinicians to be aware of the syndrome in survivors of critical illness so as to ensure that such patients receive the care that they deserve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Catecholamine
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Corticosteroid
  • Critical care
  • Critical illness
  • Intensive care unit
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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