Nurses and Mental Illness

  1. Question: If someone is diagnosed as bipolar and is successfully being treated with medication and therapy, can they still be a nurse?
    •  
  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   NikkiRN_BSN
    Yes. They most certainly can. As long as you keep up with your appointments and medication. I would watch how you do with high stress situations though.
  4. by   KJB_65
    Absolutely. One of the best nurses I ever worked with was Bipolar and functioned extremely well on meds.
  5. by   ktwlpn
    Just stay on those meds-nothing is more frustrating then working with a rapid cycling un medicated bi-polar person (in any profession)
  6. by   nurse2b2010
    There is something more frustrating - being the person diagnosed with the illness and having to deal with it for the rest of your life. Sorry, guess you hit a raw nerve! I realize the meds are important. Not everyone with bipolar is a lunatic with or without the meds. There are different levels of bipolarism. The reason I asked the question in the first place is that I plan on entering the Fall 08 nursing program. I wanted to get opinions before I put so much time and energy into going to nursing school because if the profession somehow prohibits nurses because of this illness, I need to change my course. I know I am smart and capable and I realize stress creates a tendency to increase bipolar symptoms, but if a nurse remains on the medication and he/she does well, it should be fine, right? It's hard living with the illness because of the stigma associated with it. You don't want people to know. Sorry, I just had to speak my mind on this.
  7. by   ktwlpn
    No offense was meant-I happen to work with several bi-polar nurses and they often run into trouble because they go off their meds,adjust their meds without their doctor's consent or stop going to counseling.The more stress they are under at work and at home the more likely they are to put their own care plan last.That's what I'm talking about-as someone with chronic depression I know all about how we nurses tend to take care of ourselves last.You haven't seen anything until you see a bi-polar nurse acting out in an LTC-it's the residents that suffer them most-then the co-workers.I am well aware the person with bi-polar disorder is not on a picnic,either...So my son tells me-he was diagnosed 2 years ago.....
  8. by   SICU Queen
    My mother is bipolar, as is a coworker, and let me tell you how awful it can be for everyone around them when they go off their drugs. The coworker is in a supervisory position and it's just horrible.

    SO, from MY standpoint... there aren't many things more frustrating than a rapid-cycling unmedicated bipolar nurse (or mother!).

    As to your personal situation... I see absolutely no reason why you can't become a nurse. It's no one's business what chronic condition you have. Just stay on those meds!!
  9. by   nurse2b2010
    Thanks - I understand what you are saying. I too have suffered with depression since 1991 (and before then - just never diagnosed until then). But, I wasn't actually diagnosed as bi-polar until January this year. Could never figure out why my depression medicine never worked or only worked for a short period of time. It was because I wasn't on the right meds or a mood stabilizer before. It was hard dealing all these years not knowing what to do about my depression. I am not a spring chicken -- 48 and going into nursing school! I can see your point -- where it's frustrating to work with someone who is emotional -- it's frustrating for both sides. Thanks again for the encouragement and advice.
  10. by   time4meRN
    My heavnes, yes ! There are Bi polar Dr's doing cardiac , general surg and ER medicine etc...every day. Why is it there is no question about them.
  11. by   nurse2b2010
    Very good question! Thanks
  12. by   Balder_LPN
    Quote from ktwlpn
    Just stay on those meds-nothing is more frustrating then working with a rapid cycling un medicated bi-polar person (in any profession)
    Try being married to one!

    It'll make your head spin!! :spin:
  13. by   nursprof2b
    Nurse2b2010:
    You are not your illness! If your dream is to be a nurse, why would you let anything stand in your way. IT IS horrible enough that society puts stigmas on people with mental illness, please, don't do that to yourself! Follow your healthcare providers treatment of care, as you would with any other type of illness. Just be mindful of your stress level and always, always take care of yourself, regardless!
    (I am a psychiatric Nurse for twenty years!) GO For YOUR dreams!
  14. by   HM2VikingRN
    Quote from nurse2b2010
    Thanks - I understand what you are saying. I too have suffered with depression since 1991 (and before then - just never diagnosed until then). But, I wasn't actually diagnosed as bi-polar until January this year. Could never figure out why my depression medicine never worked or only worked for a short period of time. It was because I wasn't on the right meds or a mood stabilizer before. It was hard dealing all these years not knowing what to do about my depression. I am not a spring chicken -- 48 and going into nursing school! I can see your point -- where it's frustrating to work with someone who is emotional -- it's frustrating for both sides. Thanks again for the encouragement and advice.
    I think you will be fine. Put one foot in front of the other. Pick a good organized lab partner that can help rein you in if you get flighty. I am pulling for you to get through school.

close