Psychological Reactions to Illness

Anxiety is a common psychological reaction to the stress of a major physical illness. Patients with genetic/biological vulnerabilities to develop anxiety symptoms are likely to have more intense reactions to diagnosis and treatment of a physical illness, although these same conditions can induce disabling anxiety in patients with no prior history of anxiety. Multiple psychological sources of anxiety should be considered during evaluation (Epstein and Hicks 2005; Goldberg and Posner 2000). In Table 7-1, we highlight the primary psychological sources of anxiety associated with pediatric physical illness, along with important factors that should be considered.

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