Nurses with psych hx?

Nurses General Nursing


The cheerfuldoer's thread about irregularities with her Celexa and replies that were posted has made me wonder. I have a long history of depression :stone and have taken multiple medications, attempted suicide once, and been briefly hospitalized on a psych unit. (I'm much better now, thanks.)

I think that this part of my past has made me more compassionate and able to provide better care to a wide variety of patients, not to mention those with psych dx. (I CRINGE when nurses say that they hate psych patients!)

Unfortunately, I do not feel safe talking about any of this at work. It's sad that the stigma is so intense in a health care setting, among people who ought to know better.

If you have had some of the same experiences, how do you think they have affected your practice? What do you think about the efficacy/appropriateness of any treatment you received?Would you be OK with mentioning any of these things at work?


4,516 Posts

I am cautious about mentioning personal things (such as depression) to my coworkers. Only my closest friends and family...people I trust implicitly.... know such intimate things about me. (and this BB where I have some anonymity! LOL!)

There are those out there who would try to use this info for their own purposes, unfortunately. So...proceed with caution is my best advice. :)

Best wishes for your full recovery...depression is a b*tch. :o

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

No one asks if it's ok to talk about their diabetes or high blood pressure or thyroid trouble. Depression and other "psych" illnesses are generally just mental/emotional manifestations of a physical problem - a symptom of a chemical imbalance. It bothers me a great deal that the stigma is out there. It's part of what prevents people from seeking treatments that can vastly improve the quality of their lives.

All that said, tho, I agree with MattsMom that work can be pretty cutthroat at times and no sense giving people ammo when you know the bias already exists. That doesn't mean you have to hide in the closet, but do be selective who you share this with.

Get your support where you are comfortable. And good luck with your ongoing wellness. Continue to use your experience and empathy to better serve your patients.


103 Posts

You're right about it making you more sensitive. I hate when the triage nurse comes back and says she has a patient with chest pain but she thinks it's "just anxiety". Even if the paitient is not having an MI, her chest pain is real to her. The same with full blown anxiety attacks and depression. I try to take those patients on purpose. Sometimes I tell the patient that I understand, but don't share that info with my coworkers because of the stigma.


6,011 Posts


I'm not sure about other states, but in SC the license renewal has a question have you been treated for any mental or substance problems in the last year.

My doctor told me to answer NO because most depression is a chemical imbalance. SO THERE! :)

At least WE are doing something about it.

micro, RN

1,173 Posts

What I so strongly dislike is when I hear another nurse, say such as "Oh, I am glad you have 'that' patient, I just can't stand 'them".

As if they are superior than someone with >>>>> or ...............




19 Posts

I worked with a nurse who had problems with bi-polar disorder. She openly shared these problems with co-workers (at first), and many of us were supportive. Unfortunately, there are people out there who feed off others' misfortune and take delight in gossip and ruining reputations. Although she was a skilled and empathetic nurse, the gossip mill drove her away from our facility.:( Illness, no matter what the name attached to it by science, should be no reason for shame.

Specializes in Med/Surg, ER, L&D, ICU, OR, Educator.

I've worked with a bipolar who acted like a bipolar not taking their meds.....yes.....experience shapes us.

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

It is a pity that people tend to treat mental illness or acute emotional instability like it's a terminal illness or one that is contagious so they prefer to shy away from the topic completely.

Since I do NOT live for man, but for God and country, I share whatever the heck I want to share ONLY WHEN I see that sharing my own story will benefit another human being. There is nothing man can do to me that I can't do to myself, so why worry about what they think. I share things that most people wouldn't dream of sharing publicly. I'll get emails or phone calls from people that I know when they've heard me share something "HUSH - LIKE". Heck, there were times that people were ashamed to talk about SEX, but look at how talked about it is today.......from the preschooler to the very old. The irony in all that is EVERYBODY HAS SEX, BUT NOBODY use to want to TALK ABOUT IT??? :confused:

Cancer is another disease that use to be "Hush-hush" because people use to be isolated from society when others learned of their cancer. There was a time when people thought cancer was "contagious". I could go on and on about the many things that tend to "hush people up" and make them afraid to ask for help for fear they will be isolated by others if their issue was known.

Adultery gets talked about all the time, and nobody tries to shut that up. There are some people who think committing adultery is OKAY for them to do because.................... (You fill in the blanks).

When mental or emotional health is involved, do NOT shut up about it, nurses because it is the person willing to acknowledge they have a mental or emotional illness who are the SANE ones...whether their problem is acute, chronic, or temporary due to added stress in their life.....Post Traumatic Stress and what not. The ones we need to be wary of are those who have issues, but do not address them, and think nothing is wrong with them, or they don't need help...even temporary help. BEWARE of those INSANE characters. :chuckle

I believe it is my 'CALLING' to share of my life's journey with others because having done so has already proven to be beneficial to so many people I have come to know and love. SHAME is for those who are GUILTY about something they have done in their life to others or themselves. SHAME is not for the INNOCENT who simply have issues that need to be handled in a professional and medical way.

There's a DIFFERENCE in PSYCHIATRIC and PSYCHOLOGICAL health problems. Psychiatric health issues mostly deal with mental chemical imbalances of the brain, etc. Psychological health issues tend to deal with behaviorism...situational crisis...Post traumatic stress syndrome...acute emotional trauma from a divorce, death of a loved one, loss of one's career, etc.

I was hesitant about taking Celexa at first until my doctor at the time explained to me that if I had Diabetes or Hypertension, I wouldn't hesitate to take a medication to make me better, so why would I deny myself a medication to make me better when it comes to mental health issues??? Makes sense...therefore, I took the medication, and it works wonders for me.

Yes...I've had a few people say "You? You take an antidepressant? No Way! You seem to have it all together?"

Of lame brain......of course I have it all together! If I didn't, would I have known I needed help in the first place? :lol2: Some people......I tell ya! :chuckle

All health care professionals need to get over the many stigmas that come with a person having mental or emotional issues. This is sooooooooo UNprofessional of any health care worker to NOT be comfortable with caring for patients who happen to be on a medication or more that keeps that person at their OPTIMUM level of mental/emotional health while they are undergoing treatment or therapy by a Doctor of Psychiatry or a Doctor of Psychology.

Another funny thing is for years men use to make women think by the time they were 30, they were all used up, which is why they go running off to cribland to find themselves a babydoll to play with. :rotfl: Now......we KNOW that is NOT true, don't we???

micro, RN

1,173 Posts

cheerfuldoer and all


and the last paragraph

the best is yet to come all

stigmas are only stigmas if people and society allow them to be

be wise, but be there for others........

you never know who you touch.........


live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Micro......Amen my friend! :kiss

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