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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: Daughter261, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: September 28

My mother is currently in the ICU. She has become extremely paranoid. She thinks the staff and her family are trying to kill her. She won't eat or drink for fear everything is poisoned. The doctor suggested this could be ICU psychosis.

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Comment from: Buffy, 65-74 (Patient) Published: March 17

I was in an ICU on a vent for 4 days and then in a step down unit. I have little memory of events bot many, many nightmares and hallucinations. It is 4 months since but I still have pervasive thoughts and nightmares and in very flattened mood.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: tmj, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: November 19

My father is currently in an ICU and I'm online trying to figure out what's going on with his mental state. He's had a few back surgeries and he has never behaved the way he is this time around. He has a catheter but can't understand why he's not allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. He keeps trying to get up when he's not supposed to, he's pulled out his IV, has slurred/broken speech, and he wants to go home so badly but looks like he'll be staying longer than anticipated. It is heartbreaking to see him this way. And how will he deal with going into a live-in rehabilitation since he'll be in no shape to take care of himself. I know by his eyes that he's 'not all there' mentally and I'm hoping that he'll be doing better soon but concerned about how this hospital stay will affect his recovery.

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