Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often linked with assault survivors or military veterans. We now know it can also affect people who have had serious illnesses requiring intensive care.

Patients with PTSD experience strong feelings and emotions related to a past traumatic event. These strong feelings and emotions are usually triggered by something. Because of this, people who suffer from PTSD often try to avoid the things that trigger their symptoms. This can lead to them withdrawing from their family, their friends, and their job. Many people who suffer from PTSD also experience problems with their sex life. They may also suffer from anxiety and depression at the same time.


  • minimise other stressful life experiences (if possible)
  • allow time to focus on recovery
  • talk to a doctor or other health professional
  • if symptoms persist beyond 2 weeks seeking treatment from a doctor or mental health professional

Where to go for support

If you think that you may be suffering from PTSD, you should seek help. There are a number of treatments for PTSD. These can help reduce the impact that PTSD is having on your life. Support from family and friends is very important for most people.

ICU Follow-up Clinic or Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) clinic

Depending on where you are, you may have access to an ICU Follow-up Clinic or Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) Clinic. The staff there may be able to help you understand more about your illness and your time in ICU.

Referral to a mental health professional

You may need a referral to a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The ICU Outpatient Follow-up Clinic, PICS Clinic or your General Practitioner (GP) can make the referral.


The treatments can include a mix of medications and treatments such as psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained specialist, to help you better understand and cope with your PTSD.

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Related topics

This topic has been reviewed by an intensive care medicine specialist in July 2022.

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