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Critical Illness Intensive Care And Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is a free guide designed for people who have spent time in an intensive care unit and are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It discusses how they might be feeling, why serious medical experiences can cause these difficult reactions, and the most effective psychological treatments.

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A free psychoeducational guide. Typically containing elements of skills development.


Languages this resource is available in

  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • English (GB)
  • English (US)
  • French
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Spanish (International)
  • Tagalog
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

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Introduction & Theoretical Background

As a result of the current global health crisis, many more people than usual are having serious medical experiences. These include admissions to hospital with breathing difficulties, or transfers to critical care (intensive care) units. A significant proportion of these people will go on to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This guide is for:
  • People who have survived a frightening medical experience, such as being admitted to critical care (intensive care).
  • People who have been hospitalized with severe medical problems related to COVID-19.
  • Their family and friends.
  • Mental health and medical professionals who want to understand more about how to help.
The guide gives information about:
  • How you might feel after spending time in intensive care.
  • Psychoeducation about PTSD.
  • Things about intensive care that can contribute to the development of PTSD.
  • Information about delirium.
  • Psychological approaches to treating PTSD.
  • Signposting to evidence-based treatment.
  • Information for mental health professionals working with patients who have PTSD following admission to intensive care.

Therapist Guidance

"If you have had any of the experiences described in this guide, you might find some of the examples ‘triggering’ or upsetting. Remember that there is nothing in this guide which can harm you, and that learning about what has happened (and is still happening) to you can help your recovery. We suggest that you read it slowly in sections, and that if you find it too overwhelming to approach it with the help of a health professional."

References And Further Reading

Whalley, M. G., Kaur, H. (2020). Critical illness, intensive care, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Retrieved from: