Professional psychologists often work collaboratively with physicians on the comanagement of psychological distress and cardiac disease. This article reviews the biopsychosocial assessment and treatment of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients. The ICD automatically delivers lifesaving electrical shocks to prevent sudden cardiac death, the leading cause of death in the United States. Recent clinical trial data indicate increasing future use. The overall benefit of the ICD, however, may be diminished by the significant psychological distress of receiving a shock. Psychological theories such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and cognitive appraisal theories provide significant guidance to the prescribed psychological care of ICD patients. ICD-specific education, ICD-specific behavioral therapy, and traditional clinical strategies are recommended to deliver tailored care to ICD patients and their families.
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