are nurses more depressed than the general public?

by hnurseh hnurseh Member

Has 10 years experience.

You are reading page 4 of are nurses more depressed than the general public?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.



Specializes in ER,ICU,L+D,OR. Has 25 years experience. 839 Posts

Wow, some very interesting responses in here.

For myself, I do not believe that nurses are more depressed in anyway at all. However, I am not one of those who finds nursing to be a "Calling" as some say. I love my work, I love what I do, I love the way I am compensated for it. Not everyone does love it, but that's true of any job out there.


Specializes in Nursing assistant. 1 Article; 1,429 Posts

Depression and Nursing By MedHunters Staff

A review of nursing discussion groups indicates that depression within the nursing community is a major problem. Every year, approximately 18.8 million Americans and three million Canadians suffer from clinical depression. Females have higher rates of depression than males by a ratio of 2:1. During their lifetime, about five to 12% of men and 10% to 25% of women will suffer from major depressive episode at least once.

But do nurses have special circumstances that contribute to depression? While there is a wealth of anecdotal information, no definitive study has looked at all of the factors. Here is the run-down on a few studies that uncover some of the possibilities. You can draw your own conclusions.

The Stress Connection

According to a study that used the Maslach Burnout Inventory Tool, nurses consistently scored higher on burnout than any other group of healthcare professionals. Burnout is indeed an official term - it is defined as a psychological state of physical and emotional exhaustion, which is thought to be a stress reaction to a reduced ability to meet the demands of one's occupation. For many, the line between being burned out and being clinically depressed is a fine one. Martin et al studied French healthcare workers and found that while many were burned out and exhausted, it was when these factors combined with conflict at work and a high level of job dissatisfaction that they were more likely to become depressed.

On the subject of dissatisfaction, a study by the American Nurses Association found that 30% of nurses feel powerless to improve patient safety and care, and a whopping 40% report job dissatisfaction.

Major life events, such as divorce, death, and changing work conditions are stressful for anyone. Aside from the chance that nurses may be experiencing these events on a personal level, they are likely to experience them vicariously through their patients on a daily basis.

Round-the-clock Care Giving, Exhaustion, and Depression

Nurses often complain of sleep deprivation, and recent studies indicate that lack of sleep can result in heightened levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood. A study by Dr. Patricia Carter of the University of Texas Austin, School of Nursing and Betty Chang at UCLA School of Nursing measured sleep quality and depression indices in caregivers of terminally ill people and found that lack of sleep resulted in a higher incidence of depression.

Peri-menopause and Depression

Statistics show that the average age of a nurse is 45 years old in the US and 44 years old in Canada. Many of the female nurses are in the peri-menopause age range, which may contribute to higher rates of depression. While the precise link between depression and fluctuations in hormones is unknown, there is ample anecdotal evidence that these fluctuations contribute to feeling sad. A study by Harvard University on moods and cycles found that women who undergo menopause before age 48 are twice as likely to self-report a history of depression. The researchers hypothesized that stress and depression may in fact influence endocrine function and lead to early ovarian failure. This early exposure to peri-menopause can result in a longer period of transition to menopause and longer bouts of depression as the woman's hormones undulate.

Depression Awareness

This theory is a simple but logical one: nurses, because of their training, are much more likely to be aware of the symptoms to watch for when it comes to their mental and physical health. As a result, perhaps nurses (as a group) are better able to recognize the signs of depression in themselves, report those symptoms, and seek treatment.

Is it Because of a Nurse's Personality?

Some researchers believe that temperament may be more important than environmental factors in predicting who might become depressed. A psychological study by Japanese researchers found that people who score high in novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence are more prone to depression. People who score high in reward dependence are those who like to help others, are sympathetic, and are sensitive to social cues - certainly, nurses share these characteristics. Could nurses' innate personality predispose them to depression?

Let us know what you think

pagandeva2000, LPN

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health. 7,984 Posts

Guys I hope all of you will resolve you individual issues and for us new Grads we just have to think that Nursing is not just a job but a calling.

Take care you all.....


Can you elaborate on your comment further? I'm tired and I had to read it over three times and I still think you're nitpicking at nurses who are stressed out. Are you saying that we are stressed out because nursing isn't our calling? What are you trying to say? I love being a nurse but stress does come with the job and yes it can be at times very depressing.

I take it the same way you did, Michigan RN...sounds a lot like nitpicking. My take on this is that the majority of us walked in with the clear intent to make a difference, and have been blindsighted. A new grad has clinical experiences protected under the license and the protection of the clinical instructor. Most don't have many patients under their care and may be disillusioned when they reach "Real World Nursing 101".

This is a forum of expression. We are safe to share our frustrations and joys in a safe environment since we are posting anonymously. I love being a nurse, but can't say for sure that I can do this for the next 18 years of my life due to the garbage that is thrown at us daily. Sometimes, we are too burned out to even create new ways to uplift ourselves. No one is trying to discourage new grads at all from what I have seen. I guess a year from now, some of the new grads will see what we are talking fact, new grads can see by checking out the First Year forums...



Specializes in ICU/Critical Care. 3,362 Posts

I take it the same way you did, Michigan RN...sounds a lot like nitpicking. My take on this is that the majority of us walked in with the clear intent to make a difference, and have been blindsighted. A new grad has clinical experiences protected under the license and the protection of the clinical instructor. Most don't have many patients under their care and may be disillusioned when they reach "Real World Nursing 101".

Thanks I'm not the only one then. I hate when we talk about stress and vent about daily issues on the unit or whatever field of nursing we are in and a new grad comes along and says that we need to work out our personal issues and imply that nursing wasn't our calling. I'm not saying all new grads are like this. When I graduated from nursing school I had this "wonderful world" of nursing image stuck in my head that was not very realistic and then a year later it all changed and I realized that my previous perceptions were wrong. I love being a nurse and I was a bit offended that someone is telling us to solve our personal issues and implying that nursing is not our calling. Who are they to judge whether or not nursing is our calling?

There is a big difference between nursing school "nursing" and "real world" nursing.

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED. 3,543 Posts

No, you're not the only one. I guess I just found the comment so ludicrous I didn't think it was even worth responding to.



Specializes in oncology,respiratory, med/surg. 3 Posts

Try to hang in there ,nursing is very stressfull as well as very rewarding ,I HATED nursing school ,luv nursing ,I have been a nurse for the last 22yrs. I have left work in tears over pts. who have died family members who I have held and cried with over their loss and I would not trade a minute of it,because if I have made a difference in just one person's life or family members life then it has all been worth it , you sound like you really are a good nurse just stressed we've all been there but it doe's get better!

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