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14.06.2017 | main topic | Ausgabe 3-4/2018

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 3-4/2018

The role of psychosomatic medicine in intensive care units

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 3-4/2018
Heidemarie Abrahamian, Diana Lebherz-Eichinger


Critically ill patients, their relatives, and intensive care staff are consistently exposed to stress. The principal elements of this exceptional burden are confrontation with a life-threatening disease, specific environmental conditions at the intensive care unit, and the social characteristics of intensive care medicine. The short- and long-term consequences of these stressors include a feeling of helplessness, distress, anxiety, depression, and even posttraumatic stress disorders. Not only the patients, but also their relatives and intensive care staff are at risk of developing such psychopathologies. The integration of psychosomatic medicine into the general concept of intensive care medicine is an essential step for the early identification of fear and anxiety and for understanding biopsychosocial coherence in critically ill patients. Preventive measures such as the improvement of individual coping strategies and enhancing the individual’s resistance to stress are crucial aspects of improving wellbeing, as well as the overall outcome of disease. Additional stress-reducing measures reported in the published literature, such as hearing music, the use of earplugs and eye-masks, or basal stimulation, have been successful to a greater or lesser extent.

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