Anxiety sensitivity is defined as the fear of experiencing anxiety-related symptoms and associated sensations. Anxiety sensitivity can lead to healthy behavior avoidance, medication nonadherence, and engagement in maladaptive behaviors. Unpleasant symptoms such as pain, nausea, thirst, or shortness of breath are often experienced during acute and critical illnesses. Having anxiety sensitivity can compound these sensations and may lead to avoidance of proper care and interventions.
Boehm and colleagues describe the nature of anxiety sensitivity and its impact on critical care. They recommend
A thorough medical evaluation to differentiate anxiety sensitivity from other medical conditions
Providing educational support to intensive care patients about common symptoms experienced in the intensive care unit and their resolution
Family engagement to provide a comforting environment and reduce social isolation
Psychological support during critical illness recovery for those with diagnosed anxiety sensitivity
The authors state that education and dissemination of knowledge are vital to increase providers’...