Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

What is Post-intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: PICS

Mains level: Mental health concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Various news reports in recent weeks have pointed out that for some COVID-19 patients who needed intensive care, the journey to recovery is a long one.
  • After leaving the ICU, they may suffer from what is known as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which can happen to any person who has been in the ICU.

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. This pandemic is going to leave a bigger trauma for those who had lost their dear ones as well those who recovered.

What is PICS?

  • PICS comprise impairment in cognition, psychological health and physical function of a person who has been in the ICU.
  • Further, such patients may experience neuromuscular weakness, which can manifest itself in the form of poor mobility and recurrent falls.
  • The psychological disability may arise in a person in the form of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Its symptoms

  • The most common PICS symptoms are generalized weakness, fatigue, decreased mobility, anxious or depressed mood, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances and cognitive issues.
  • These symptoms may last for a few months or many years after recovery, the authors of the aforementioned article note.
  • Patients who develop this may take at least a year to fully recover, until which time they may have difficulty in carrying out everyday tasks such as grooming, dressing, feeding, bathing and walking.

What causes PICS?

  • A combination of factors can affect aspects of an ICU survivor’s life.
  • PICS may be induced if a person was on prolonged mechanical ventilation, experienced sepsis, multiple organ failure and a prolonged duration of “bed-restore deep sedation”.


  • It is recommended that to avoid PICS, patients’ use of deep sedation is limited and early mobility is encouraged, along with giving them “aggressive” physical and occupational therapy.
  • Further, patients should be given the lowest dose of pain medications when possible and should be put on lung or cardiovascular rehabilitation treatments along with treatments for depression, anxiety and PTSD.

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