, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 796-809
Date: 23 Jan 2009

Depression in general intensive care unit survivors: a systematic review

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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).


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


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.


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.