Chapter 2: Where are you vulnerable?

When your anxiety management no longer works


“Intensive care is very intense”.– ICU Nurse

Anxiety is a daily part of ICU work and as previously mentioned, can lead to vicarious trauma. As humans, we have protective mechanisms that may or may not serve us well when responding to anxiety.


Common unhelpful responses to vicarious trauma

The following two common responses to anxiety may be an indication that you are experiencing vicarious trauma and that you may not be coping well. Roll your mouse over the pictures below to find out about two common responses.




Avoiding patients or family members.





Becoming fixated on medical details that are no longer useful or being overly directive with a family, for example, ordering them around.





These two responses can gradually undermine the effectiveness of the care you provide and your relationship with the family. Acknowledging your feelings of anxiety and stress can help you start to identify alternative ways of coping. This can be challenging but can make a big difference to your well-being.  Some questions to ask yourself to determine the impact of your feelings are:


  • What is my fear/anxiety making me do at work?
  • What is my fear/anxiety keeping me from doing at work?