Many people who have been critically unwell have problems with their mental health afterwards. They can experience issues such as anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These conditions can range from mild to severe.

These conditions can also overlap. For example, some people have symptoms of anxiety and depression at the same time.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • feeling down and sad most of the time
  • feeling guilty or overwhelmed
  • losing interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • not wanting to go out anymore
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • unable to concentrate

It is common for people to suffer from depression after being in ICU. Don’t ignore what is happening if your symptoms are not going away.

What can help

Often the first step for many people is to talk to a friend or family member. You may have questions about your time in ICU that they may be able to answer. Sometimes they, or you, will have been given a diary about your time in ICU.

ICU diaries

ICU diaries can help you understand what happened during your time in ICU. They may be able to help reduce your symptoms of anxiety.


Treatments are tailored for you. They can include a mix of medications and other forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained specialist to help you better understand and cope with your depression.

Where to go for support

General Practitioner (GP)

Another important person that you can talk to is your General Practitioner (GP). They may start treatment for your depression. They may also refer you to a psychiatrist, a psychologist or mental health counsellor.

ICU Follow-up Clinic

Depending on where you are, you might also have access to an ICU Follow-up Clinic. The staff there may be able to help you understand more about your illness and your time in ICU. Online or in-person support groups can also be helpful in managing your depression.

Online or in-person support groups

Online or in-person support groups can also be helpful in managing your anxiety.

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Related topics

This topic was reviewed by an intensive care specialist in July 2022.

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