Depression Concerns for Acute Lung Injury Patients

Depression and physical impairment linked in acute lung injury patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Acute lung injury (ALI) not only affects a person's physical ability but also affects their mental state. Depression is a serious concern for ALI patients and should be treated early.

For ALI patients, depression was identified as a common occurrence two years after the injury. This depression could hinder recovery and increase physical impairment. According to a recent study, depression should be tested and diagnosed early to improve long-term recovery for ALI patients.

"Consult a therapist if you notice behavior changes."

The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, involved 186 ALI patients who were using mechanical ventilation to assist in breathing. Patients filled out a questionnaire to evaluate depression and physical limitation.  ALI can lead to reduced lung capacity and respiratory failure, and many ALI patients need mechanical ventilation to support their breathing.

For the 147 patients who did not initially have depression, 40 percent of patients experienced depressive symptoms. Out of 112 patients who were not physically impaired at the start of the study, 66 percent of patients had incidents of physical impairment over the course of two years.

Patients who had less than 12 years of education were more likely to have depressive symptoms. More importantly, at the end of two years, there was a strong association between depressive symptoms and physical impairment.

Due to this strong association, the researchers suggested early monitoring for depressive systems. Early diagnosis of depressive symptoms can possibly reduce physical impairment incidents and improve long-term treatment.

Future research can determine if an early intervention program should be included in the treatment of ALI patients. Studies involving a patient's quality of life or which patients are ideal candidates can help doctors better treat ALI patients.

Depressive symptoms and physical impairment are additional concerns for ALI patients. For ALI patients, a better mental state could lead to better recovery.

This study was published in the December edition of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 13, 2011
Last Updated:
December 29, 2011