Depression and anxiety in the NICU

  1. 2
    I have been in the NICU for a little over 1 year and I am thinking about a career change. I love the NICU and it can be so rewarding, but the things we see... IVH, IDMs with their blood sugar in the dirt for 12 hours, all kinds of NEC with 3 perforations in my 1 year, an infant born with leukemia, PIE, preemies who thrive in the nicu just to be readmitted to the PICU with shaken baby syndrome, sweet NAS babies who go home with parents who can't even wake up to feed them when they are screaming their heads off... it is becoming too much for me. When I take care of an unstable baby, my levels of anxiety are much higher than the helpful level. I regularly have dreams that all my babies are dying at the same time and I can't help them all. Has anyone else dealt with this without having to move to another area of nursing?
    TeenyTinyBabyRN and TASHA_RN_BSN like this.
  2. 7 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    Wow. For starters, I think you need some help dealing w/all these sad situations. Counseling is the first thing that comes to mind. Find a variety of HEALTHY ways to handle stress.

    In addition, if you could find a less stressful/'intense' unit in which to work.
  4. 3
    We have a peer support group in our unit for handling sad situations. It helps alot to be able to discuss it with people who "know".

    Definitely consider counseling!
    poppycat, SoldierNurse22, and prmenrs like this.
  5. 1
    Talk to someone in your EAP. I think that many people come Ito NICU and are overwhelmed with all the things that can be wrong with a newborn or preemie , and that some are devastated or don't survive.

    You need to take care of yourself!
    prmenrs likes this.
  6. 6
    One thing I learned quickly. YOU CANNOT SAVE THE WORLD. Just do your best, know that if not for you many of those kids wouldn't become adults one day.
  7. 1
    I am a former NICU nurse, I loved it as well. One thing that I know, if a job is affecting you physical & psychosocial wellness you have to seek resources. EAP is a great idea, I had called them once when I hit & killed a dog on the road and I couldn't calm down or stop shaking. I would never suggest or consider you leaving your passion, but you have to take care of you 1st. I am a woman of God; prayer & faith has helped me deal with a boatload of mental drama. I wish you the best in your endeavors.
    TeenyTinyBabyRN likes this.
  8. 5
    A year is not long enough to transition into a job you love to do, any kind of nursing will change you.

    The only thing you can control is what happens in front of you, not what happens when you are not there, not on your days off, not when they go home , not What of parent they will be or not be.

    Find a way to focus when you are there and disconnect when your not.
    YOU will have to find a healthy way to cope of a unhealthily way of coping will find you.
  9. 6
    This was the key for me. I used to take it personally when we lost a baby. It made me angry, and I took it home with me. A wise mentor taught me how to deal with it more productively and to understand that it wasn't my fault. And that it isn't necessarily the worst outcome for the baby to die.

    Quote from merrywhiterose
    One thing I learned quickly. YOU CANNOT SAVE THE WORLD. Just do your best, know that if not for you many of those kids wouldn't become adults one day.
    TeenyTinyBabyRN, Elvish, prmenrs, and 3 others like this.


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