Background: Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) is an umbrella term for the long-term physical, cognitive, and mental health conditions survivors live with long after an ICU discharge. Mental health conditions experienced by survivors include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and COVID ARDS who were on a ventilator are particularly at risk of developing long-term mental health conditions.

Study Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the severity of anxiety, depression, and PTSD in adult survivors of these two ARDS conditions (COVID ARDS; ARDS) who were admitted to intensive care units and required ventilatory support in January 2020 or after.

Method: Data was collected from 16 ICU survivors with previously diagnosed COVID-19 positive and -negative ARDS after 2020, greater than or equal to 1 month from ICU discharge, who were on a ventilator, a U.S. resident, and greater than or equal to 18 years old. To evaluate the severity of PICS in these survivors, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and Impact of Event Scale-Revised were utilized. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis.

Results: This study included 16 survivors (13 COVID ARDS; 3 ARDS). Moderate to severe anxiety was higher in the ARDS group then the COVID ARDS group (66.7% vs. 53.8%). Nearly 85% of COVID ARDS survivors experienced at least moderate depression versus 100% of ARDS survivors. Both groups experienced PTSD, but ARDS survivors experienced PTSD at a level high enough to suppress the immune system (66.7% vs. 38.5%). Collectively, 56.3% and 87.5% of all survivors within the study experienced moderate to severe anxiety and depression, while 43.8% experienced the highest severity of PTSD, respectively.

Discussion: This study's results reveal the extent to which survivors of ARDS and COVID ARDS develop mental illness after an ICU admission. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD can delay recovery by contributing to the development of chronic diseases. Understanding the severity of PICS symptoms is important to tailor interventions to reduce the severity of these conditions.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Peach, Brian


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date