psychological recovery for cpr survivors

Psychological Recovery for CPR Survivors

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique employed during emergencies when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This critical intervention has saved countless lives, offering a second chance to those who experience sudden cardiac arrest. However, survival is only the beginning of the journey. The aftermath of such a near-death experience can leave survivors grappling with a range of psychological challenges.

The Aftermath of CPR: Emotional Turbulence

Survivors often emerge from their ordeal with both relief and trepidation. The joy of survival is frequently tempered by anxiety about the future, with many survivors experiencing an “emotional roller coaster”. Following their physical recovery, survivors often find themselves confronting psychological distress, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Over 40% of survivors suffer from anxiety, 30% from depression, and 25% from PTSD, according to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Another study reported that 95% of survivors experienced lingering psychological difficulties after being discharged from the hospital, with anxiety being the most commonly reported symptom.

Coping Mechanisms and Support Systems

While the psychological impact can be intense, there’s also evidence of increased resilience among some survivors. A subset of cardiac arrest survivors emerges from the experience with heightened psychological resilience and views it as a positive event. They draw strength from their survival, using it as a catalyst for personal growth and transformation.

One of the effective ways to foster resilience and support psychological recovery is through education and resources. Survivors should receive resources, information, and education outlining appropriate expectations for recovery. These could include therapy, counseling, support groups, and self-care techniques to manage stress and anxiety.

The Role of CPR Education

Learning CPR can significantly reduce the response time during a cardiac arrest, thereby increasing the chances of survival. But beyond this physical life-saving aspect, CPR education also plays a role in preparing individuals for the possible psychological aftermath. It helps create awareness about the potential emotional and mental health challenges that survivors may face, thereby promoting early intervention and support.


Survival after CPR is not just about physical recovery; it’s also about psychological healing. As a community, we must acknowledge the emotional toll of such experiences and ensure survivors receive the mental health support they need. Everyone has a role to play in this regard, whether it’s lending an empathetic ear, providing resources, or simply spreading awareness about the psychological journey of CPR survivors.