ICU Psychosis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2021

ICU psychosis is a temporary condition in which patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) become delirious and display serious psychiatric symptoms similar to those of psychotic disorders.

Signs and symptoms of ICU psychosis can vary and may include

Associated symptoms can also include a fluctuating level of consciousness and aggressive or passive behavior. The diagnosis can only be made if other causes of psychotic behavior can be ruled out.

Cause of ICU psychosis

While the exact cause is not known, many factors are likely to be involved in the development of ICU psychosis, including pain, medication or drug effects, stress, low oxygen levels, continuous light levels, sensory deprivation, and critical illness.

Other icu psychosis symptoms and signs

  • Abnormal Behavior
  • Agitation
  • Clouding of Consciousness
  • Delusions
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing Voices
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.