30% of Hemorrhage Survivors have PTSD

Hemorrhage recurrence fear causes high rate of PTSD

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

(RxWiki News) After suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, many patients are very traumatized and fear recurrent hemorrhages, though the actual risk is very low.

Stemming from those fears, about a third of subarachnoid hemorrhage survivors develop debilitating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

"Seek counseling after a hemorrhage if you have PTSD symptoms."

Adam J. Noble, the study's leader from King's College London, said that PTSD treatment could help relieve fear of such a recurrence and would promote better outcomes for patients. In reality, hemorrhage survivors are at a slightly elevated risk of recurrence, but the risk -- which is between 1 percent and 3 percent -- is still considered miniscule.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain. It is often caused by a ruptured aneurysm.

The study found that many patients had persistent fear about another hemorrhage despite reassurances. Those fears often caused patients to limit activities and strained family relationships.

During the research, 142 patients received a standard assessment for PTSD symptoms about 18 months after a subarachnoid hemorrhage. About 30 percent met the PTSD criteria, and were found to be more pessimistic about their likelihood of having another hemorrhage.

They also were more fearful of life-threatening diseases that were unrelated such as lung cancer and heart attacks.

It was also found that the fearful patients were less likely to find their current treatments helpful. The fear appeared to originate from a psychological origin, not a physical one, researchers discovered.

Noble suggested that PTSD treatment including psychological therapy would be most helpful in aiding these patients with daily functioning.

The study was published in Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 5, 2011
Last Updated:
August 8, 2011