Study Finds That Family Members of COVID-19 ICU Patients May Be at Risk for Developing PTSD Symptoms

A new study reveals that people whose loved ones were hospitalized for COVID-19 in intensive care units (ICUs) may develop serious mental health conditions resulting from emotional trauma.

A nurse enters a COVID-19 patient’s room inside the intensive care unit at Adventist Health on August 27, 2021, in Sonora, California. Credit: Getty Images
A nurse enters a COVID-19 patient’s room inside the intensive care unit at Adventist Health on August 27, 2021, in Sonora, California. Credit: Getty Images

A new study indicates that families who had a loved one in the intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19 may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, also found that family members have developed anxiety and depression from their abrupt change in circumstances.

Another finding from the study shows that among the families surveyed, 63% had significant symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms were higher for women, Hispanic people, and those who previously used medication for a psychiatric condition.

 

Dr. Timothy Amass, who conducted the study, told CNN that having a family member admitted to the ICU has always been a stressful and traumatic process, but social distancing measures that limited families’ access to patients may have compounded the issue.

Amass is calling “for providers to actively screen these family members for depression, anxiety, and PTSD clinically so they can get therapy.”