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Depression + Anxiety as a Nurse

Nurses   (115,225 Views | 59 Replies)

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

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I live with bipolar I and anxiety, so I can relate to your struggles. Before things went south on me toward the end of my career, I held many stressful jobs and fought anxiety through each and every one of them. I also remember nursing school skills labs were excruciating, because I was so anxious about doing new  skills in front of my instructors. I was afraid I'd fail. But with a little help from medication and therapy, I was able to push through and do it anyway.

Maybe that's what you need to break through the fear and be the LPN you want to be. If you're not seeing a mental healthcare professional, please consider it; they can teach you coping skills that will serve you well throughout your life and career. You sound like an intelligent and conscientious person, give yourself every advantage you can!

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A late new age guru named Stuart Wilde once said something to the effect that it is people that have had a heroin addiction that can truly understand and empathise with the heroin addict. This is to say, that you bring valuable first-hand experience into peoples lives that need it the most. We all have had stage fright in the sim labs. Some students have been through nursing school a half of a dozen times and by then, they are confident in labs and have most of that stuff memorized and can do it blindfolded. Unless you sleep with your books under your pillow, it can seem daunting. We all feel this, some are more verbal about it than others. The ones that do well are usually the ones that have been exposed to a medical environment for a number of years. I recommend persevere, one day you will look back and say to yourself it was not that bad. You can do it, and you are needed!!!

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Just because you have depression & anxiety  doesn’t mean you won’t be a fabulous nurse! Don’t give up!! I am bipolar & take a combination of medication daily. I also work as a mental health nurse in a mental health clinic. Please continue to go to therapy & maybe consider another antidepressant other than Zoloft. Your personal experiences will help you be a great nurse! You can do this! Best of luck!!! 

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twinmommy+2 is a ADN, BSN and specializes in ED.

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I have PTSD, generalized anxiety, and major depression. It wasn't until I found my current job that I really felt at home and don't suffer from it mostly at work. If you find your niche, you'll find your confidence to beat back the anxiety.

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I’m sorry you are struggling. 

there is something called learned helplessness. It’s related to depression. The idea comes from some studies done by psychiatrists on animals who gave up swimming and let themselves drown If they were placed in water or refused escaping stressful situations even when they had the ability to. 
the studies imo have a lot to do with the way we respond to helpless situations as people. When all we know is stress and being treated poorly, we learn to live that way and accept it every single day. In fact we stay in those circumstances even when there is a way out.
The upside to all of this is that the scientists studying learned helplessness found that even one experience of freedom took the animals out of their frozen state and re-energized their organism, allowing them to save themselves from the stressful situatio. With the help of a better environment and circumstances, the animals behavior changed completely.
Maybe becoming a nurse will be your success story, your raft, your way out. Sometimes helping others helps us help ourselves. As far as mental health....a sense of purpose, meaning, and freedom can do amazing things for ones emotional and physical well being. I particularly like the work of Carl Rogers and person oriented therapy. His work has been very influential to nursing. 
Here’s an article from psychology today about the experiments I was referring to earlier in my posts:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/kidding-ourselves/201405/the-remarkable-power-hope%3famp

Edited by seraphimid

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1 hour ago, seraphimid said:

I’m sorry you are struggling. 

there is something called learned helplessness. It’s related to depression. The idea comes from some studies done by psychiatrists on animals who gave up swimming and let themselves drown If they were placed in water or refused escaping stressful situations even when they had the ability to. 
the studies imo have a lot to do with the way we respond to helpless situations as people. When all we know is stress and being treated poorly, we learn to live that way and accept it every single day. In fact we stay in those circumstances even when there is a way out.
The upside to all of this is that the scientists studying learned helplessness found that even one experience of freedom took the animals out of their frozen state and re-energized their organism, allowing them to save themselves from the stressful situatio. With the help of a better environment and circumstances, the animals behavior changed completely.
Maybe becoming a nurse will be your success story, your raft, your way out. Sometimes helping others helps us help ourselves. As far as mental health....a sense of purpose, meaning, and freedom can do amazing things for ones emotional and physical well being. I particularly like the work of Carl Rogers and person oriented therapy. His work has been very influential to nursing. 
Here’s an article from psychology today about the experiments I was referring to earlier in my posts:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/kidding-ourselves/201405/the-remarkable-power-hope%3famp

wow that is an excellent point. my parents were the kind to be comfortable being miserable so i have that habit too. i’m moving into a house soon with my bf & cats, i’ll graduate in august. 🙂 i was thinking about hospice work. i’ve had 3 clients with that care and it really fills my heart when i help them, even with little stuff like hand holding or changing briefs. ♥️

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MBar1 is a RN and specializes in Med/Surg.

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The way that your post is organized is two fold. YOU are depressed and anxious. Also, you are currently in school to become a LPN and its going well.  I want to EMPHASIZE this, "IT'S GOING WELL". You finish your post by asking the community whether you should drop out and become a CNA because, from what I can tell, you are afraid that your mental health, in future, will effect your capacity to be nurse.  So you are associating a potential cause, which is your mental health, to a foreseen effect towards a future that has not yet manifested itself?

I am not criticizing you, nor am I making an attempt to draw conclusions. What I am doing is laying out the facts. This is what I do when I am in a rut and desperately need a direction to springboard a potential solution. 

You mention that you have anxiety and depression. From my experience, one will cripple you and make every important endeavor in your life a difficult one. And the other will suppress your ability to "see the positive" and creates an aura of hopelessness that manifests itself as a grey cloud that hangs over top, waiting for you to feel a glimmer of hope. I will not get into how I believe that BOTH are a combination of the manifestations of our own minds, combined with existential disorientation and physiology. But I digress. 

You probably second guess every decision and your ability to execute constantly. Adding to this, you probably think that the high stakes nature of your future job will further perpetuate your anxiety/depression, and more directly, your performance. This is normal. Those with mental health concerns similar to yours have been or are currently sharing the same feelings/thoughts as you currently are. As have I in my endeavors. 

But here is the reality. You are ahead of the game. You are self aware. Either from experience or a premonition of future difficulty. Its okay to be concerned, to recognize a need for improvement and reach out for a helping hand. 

You have not even experienced what its like to work as a nurse in the "real" world. Autonomous and bearing the responsibility of life and death. So how could you give up now? Why would you allow your future concerns impact what has not yet been written in time? 

What I recommend you do is find a mentor. Faculty to speak to regarding your concerns. Sometimes you just need reassurances. Sometimes its the "fear of the unknown" that causes us to convince ourselves of some make-believe deficiency that we may not really acquire. Which in turn, perpetuates further doubt in ourselves and our Beings. Additionally, I recommend keeping a journal. Write down your thoughts. Arrange it like this: PERCEIVED PROBLEM ---> MY CURRENT FEELINGS ---> WHAT THIS PROBLEM WOULD MEAN IF IT MANIFESTED ITSELF ---> WHAT I AM GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. 

 

All the best. 

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Hi Ella,

I had a very similar upbringing.  What has greatly helped my is Al-Anon ACOA (adult children of alcoholics).  It doesn't matter if there was drinking or not, you will find a lot in common with others.  I used to worry constantly, I had IBS, I lacked so much confidence.  I also "over-thought" a lot.  After being in ACOA I learned that I am not alone.  I use the 12 Steps of AA (and Al-Anon) to make things right for myself.  There are meetings all over the world.  Shop around.  It takes time to heal.  If you stick with it you'll be surprised how much you will grow.  Your anxiety and depression will also be more manageable.  Of course, traditional therapy also works, but ACOA is free (and I believe more effective).  Good luck! You can do this!

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86 Posts; 1,291 Profile Views

14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.

We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.

We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.

We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.

We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.

We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.

We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.

We became addicted to excitement.

We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”

We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (Denial).

We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.

We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.

Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.

Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Sound familiar?   You ARE NOT ALONE!!

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Ella26 has 2 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Allergy and Immunology.

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Aquakenn, CNA

This is so spot on. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely look into it. 
 

Ella

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86 Posts; 1,291 Profile Views

Don't be afraid to shop around.  The best ACOA meetings are Al-Anon ACOA meetings.  I learned and continue to learn a lot from the 12 Steps of recovery.

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nursemike has 12 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Rodeo Nursing (Neuro).

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If depression and/or anxiety were disqualifying, the nursing shortage would be truly epic. Whether we are more likely to be diagnosed because we are more attuned to our condition or more prone to mental illness because we are under so much stress, or maybe just more inclined to discuss our mental illness, I was amazed after I started taking Celexa to learn how many of my peers--many of them strong nurses--were taking one or another psych meds. I haven't taken Celexa for several years, now--a few unscheduled rounds of ECT (in the form of CPR) made a major change in my outlook. I still get blue, once in awhile, but my emotions seem a lot closer to the surface after I almost died, and an occasional bad day doesn't seem as prone to turn into a bad month, or year.

"Almost' is a big word, to me. When I was in nursing school, I almost flunked out while making straight As because of crippling anxiety during clinicals. It got to the point where I had no choice to talk about it with my instructors, and as humbling as that was, damned if they didn't help me learn ways to cope. As a working nurse, I still get anxious when anxiety is appropriate, but now it motivates instead of crippling me.

OP, you aren't wrong to worry--a bit--that psychological problems could make it harder to focus on things like passing meds. On the other hand, problems you recognize are a lot easier to manage than complacency or overconfidence.  Almost every successful nurse I know has at least a touch of OCD, and several of my doctors have commented, *You nurses are all control freaks,"

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