ICU Psychosis - Symptoms

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What symptoms did you or someone you know experience with an ICU psychosis? How long did they last?

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What are the symptoms of ICU psychosis?

The cluster of psychiatric symptoms of ICU psychosis include:

  • extreme excitement,
  • anxiety,
  • restlessness,
  • hearing voices,
  • clouding of consciousness,
  • hallucinations,
  • nightmares,
  • paranoia,
  • disorientation,
  • agitation,
  • delusions,
  • abnormal behavior,
  • fluctuating level of consciousness which include aggressive or passive behavior.

In short, patients become temporarily psychotic. The symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient. The onset of ICU psychosis is usually rapid, and is upsetting and frightening to the patient and family members.

Return to ICU Psychosis

See what others are saying

Comment from: 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: December 05

My mother was in ICU for four days and upon moving to a regular room she developed extreme paranoia and was very agitated. She wanted to call the police because the medical staff was trying to kill her. She told several family members they were mean to put her in a place like this, she was surely going to die. It was very scary to see such a change in her mental state.

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Comment from: vanbrandt, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 07

I went into atrial fibrillation, lost oxygen to the brain, had pacemaker put in, was dehydrated and the dye for the procedure caused stage 4 renal failure. They flew me to another hospital and I was sedated for 17 days and put on dialysis. When I came to, I quickly became convinced by the TV (a voice) that members of the staff had killed my friend and were trying to kill me and my family to shut us up. I told my family to get out of there. I pulled my gastro-intestinal tube out. I was flinging DNA any where I could, so forensics could use it, many other things as well. Some family members would humor my delusion (which only encouraged it) and I had refused further medication. Finally my girlfriend shook me and asked if I thought she was trying to kill me. I said no I trusted her. She asked me to let them treat me. I told her I believed she was being naive, but would die for her. They gave me Seroquel. By the time they discharged me I had come out of the ICU psychosis and was myself, but I still have fears 1 and 1/2 years later of ever possibly going back to that dark place in my mind.

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