Depression in general intensive care unit survivors: a systematic review

Intensive Care Med. 2009 May;35(5):796-809. doi: 10.1007/s00134-009-1396-5. Epub 2009 Jan 23.


Purpose: To critically review data on the prevalence of depressive symptoms in general intensive care unit (ICU) survivors, risk factors for these symptoms, and their impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

Methods: We conducted a systematic review using Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and a hand-search of 13 journals.

Results: Fourteen studies were eligible. The median point prevalence of "clinically significant" depressive symptoms was 28% (total n = 1,213). Neither sex nor age were consistent risk factors for post-ICU depression, and severity of illness at ICU admission was consistently not a risk factor. Early post-ICU depressive symptoms were a strong risk factor for subsequent depressive symptoms. Post-ICU depressive symptoms were associated with substantially lower HRQOL.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are common in general ICU survivors and negatively impact HRQOL. Future studies should address how factors related to individual patients, critical illness and post-ICU recovery are associated with depression in ICU survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness / epidemiology*
  • Critical Illness / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*