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Change Careers or Treat Depression?

RehabRN5 RehabRN5 (New) New

Sorry this is long, thanks for reading this! I'm an ADN working in the rehab wing of a LTC unit. I've had this job 2 yrs, been an RN for 3 yrs. and it's my 3rd job. I've got a good boss and great co-workers. Sure, I deal with a lot of the same issues that other nurses deal with: too many patients, too much charting, doctors not being able to visit their patients enough, feeling overwhelmed at times, dealing with crappy policies... However, I feel like on the spectrum of nursing conditions out there, I really don't have it too bad. When I am at work I put on a happy face for my patients, do my best, and work as hard as I can. I usually get positive feedback from residents and staff on how well I'm doing.

My problem is that I dread going to work every week. From the beginning of my first shift to the end of my 3rd shift I'm counting down the hours left. Since my second semester in nursing school I have found that when I get home I don't want to go out and socialize. I've lost interest in exercise and gained weight. I don't sleep as well as I used too. I'm not feeling my feelings very well anymore. I moved to a smaller town about 2 years ago for my boyfriend who is from this area. Since moving I haven't really made a huge effort to develop a life for myself here. I'm just feeling lonely, isolated, and depressed.

Nursing is a second career for me. I used to do GIS (map making) and community planning. I left that field in search of a more fulfilling career; I wanted to help people directly and I thought I was going to love nursing. The reality is that now I have this gut sinking feeling when I think about nursing, eventhough it is rewarding and sometimes my patient interactions feel valuable. I am an introverted, introspective quiet person and nursing is a stressful, fast paced environment with constant interruptions. I often find myself missing the days when I worked in a quiet cubicle and could just sit down and work on projects.

There is a job opening in the city planning depart. in the town that I live in. I'm considering applying for it, especially since jobs like that don't open up very often. I just don't want to regret leaving a profession that would have given me the opportunity to spend my life helping people. Also, I'm just not sure if I'm feeling depressed because nursing isn't the right field for me, or if I'm dealing with depression and that's why I'm not happy with nursing. Any advice?

Thank you!

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

I would see someone to be evaluated for depression. A job change may still be in order, but with symptoms affecting your life outside of work, that's nothing to mess with.

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

I can identify with a lot of what you're saying. In reading your post, I feel like there are a few things you can do right now to put yourself in a better place.

First, as PP said, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing. They may have solutions for them, whether through therapy, medication, etc. I know it sounds like a lot just to deal with work, but often these things can be temporary. No need to suffer in the meantime. (Also, do you work nights, by chance?)

As a fellow introvert, I understand how the pace/activity of a job can affect your happiness. I'm not sure what other environments you've worked in, but maybe there is something else you can try that would be more up your alley. Whenever I search Indeed for kicks and giggles, I find a lot of nursing positions that I never would have guessed were out there.

Finally, I don't see the harm in applying to the job you found, if only to feel like you have options while you start sorting everything out. If you do that, you could always work per diem, maybe a shift a week, just to stay in practice. There are plenty of PRN/on-call jobs out there that might be very fulfilling without wearing you down all week.

Good luck! Keep us updated.

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Absolutely apply for the job! As a previous poster mentioned, you can always pick up a PRN somewhere so you can still be a nurse and keep your nursing skills current if you don't want to give up being a nurse altogether. Nursing is ridiculously stressful. If you see a way out, there is no shame in taking it. Good luck!

I'd apply too and stay prn as well. There's no guarantee you'll get it,and there's no guarantee you'll like it once you learn more about the position, but there's no harm in applying.

Thank you for your replies; nurses really are a helpful bunch😊. NightNerd, fortunately I work day shift. I have worked nights before, and I especially struggled during that time. I think I will apply for the job and just see what happens. If I get the job maybe I'll feel better and if not I'll talk to my doctor about therapy or meds. I like what some of you suggest about keeping a foot in nursing. You're right, I don't need to look at it as an all or nothing kind of thing.

As someone who has issues with depression and anxiety myself, I can say that you can make it in nursing! Maybe not all areas, but there should be something out there that will work. I am also a quiet person, but have managed to make my second job work. My first job, in a cardiac PCU, did not fit me well because I do have anxiety issues. However, I have found a job with a little more routine, which lowers my anxiety. It sounds like your depression is really impacting your life, though, so you may want to see something about it. It really drains on you when it seems like nursing is the only thing in your life. Make yourself happier and you'll enjoy nursing more. Also, go ahead and apply for the job and see what it's about. Good luck!

fawnmarie, ASN

Specializes in Psychiatric Nursing. Has 19 years experience.

Apply for the job in the city planning department! Sometimes, we have to do a little bit of moving and shaking until we find what is really a good fit for us. I thought I would love school nursing, but I was wrong. I am going back to mental health nursing this summer after just a year and a half as a school nurse. I know I am making the right choice. School nursing is not satisfying or fulfilling to me. Apply and see what happens! Life is an adventure! Best of luck to you!

jbudrick, MSN

Specializes in Certified Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurse. Has 18 years experience.

Please keep in mind that the depression may follow you into the next job. It sounds like you are having a hard time building a life in your new town. Definitely discuss the depression with your doctor. Also, follow the basic nursing advice of eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest. Spend time outside of work socializing with other people, like take a class or participate in a sport. Hope things look up for your soon.



Has 26 years experience.

Your thoughts here are classic of depression/anxiety. And we who tend to be depressed tend to have that "all or nothing" stinking thinking. Get the depression evaluated and treated. Give it a few weeks THEN make the major decisions. Until then, you need to take care of you. HUGS!

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Moved to Health and Stress Management

nervousnurse, ASN

Specializes in NICU, Peds, Med-Surg. Has 27 years experience.

I totally agree with those who said go ahead and apply for that other job, and try to keep current in nursing with a PRN position!

Best of both worlds! Once you figure out IF it was nursing that was the main

cause of your depression, you'll be able to stay in the new job and possibly say good-bye to nursing. The other great thing is

that you can still keep your nursing license current/ active in CASE you decide to stay with nursing.

You've probably thought of this, but---have you also considered a totally different position in nursing---away from direct

patient care, such as: MDS/ Quality Control / Chart auditing, etc? I took a 3-day course in MDS and knew I would

reallllly enjoy it---the only problem was, it is VERY hard to get a position without experience. On the other hand, I have

met some nurses who got the MDS position since they already worked in the facilty; they were willing to train. You could ask where you

work now if there are any different types of positions they'd consider you for? Good luck :)

MA Nurse

Specializes in NICU, Telephone Triage.

I would apply for the job, too. You can always be a nurse per diem if you want. If I could find a different job that paid around the same money, I would leave nursing in a second. Burned out after 27 years.....