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Nursing & Depression


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Nurses and Depression/Anxiety

  1. 1. Nurses and Depression/Anxiety

    • 401
      I think the incidence of depression/anxiety is higher in nursing than other professions.
    • 264
      I feel depression/anxiety has interfered with my job performance.
    • 259
      I feel nursing has played a part in my depression
    • 23
      I feel administration is as supportive to nurses w/ depression/anxiety as w/ other diseases

459 members have participated

Alley Cat

Specializes in Peds Critical Care, NICU, Burn. Has 25 years experience.

Wow! Guess it just doesn't get discussed around here. My suspicion is that it's a taboo subject..."She needs out>that's a cop-out" are some things I've overheard about people/staffers who have left because of emotional problems (which usually manifested themselves in major mistakes, drug usage on the job, or sudden no-shows on the job). :o

What's interesting is sometimes our own response when someone tries to tell us we're depressed. My family physician has tried twice to place me on antidepressants, even though I did not score high on a written test for depression. He was basing his assessment on a passing comment rather than an actual complaint of lack of sleep. (The lack of sleep was from a small intruding bed-hopper, age 4-5 years, who's like sleeping with the character TAZ!) Anyway, after I complained about how the meds made me feel, he laid off. (It's interesting that he always had samples to give me before I actually had a script filled)

:rolleyes: :confused: :p

I do have a counselor that I see when things are overwhelming; that was a reason for a major job change to begin with. My sympathies to those who do suffer from clinical depression; a cousin of mine has suffered for years with it, and I grieve for him everytime I hear he's having increased difficulties. He's warm, caring, sensitive...no, he's not a nurse, but see the similarities?

Sometimes I think it's the gentlest souls who suffer the most.:o

What is your problem? Admittedly, I am somewhat biased, having been a psych nurse forever, but do you suggest to your COPD patients that they take in a movie? Maybe if all diabetics went to a comedy club and/or got laid they'd be cured?:(

I am astounded that you graduated nursing school, much less passed the State Board:eek:

Where I come from, we call people like you effing ignorant.

Instead of writing stupid, patronizing emails, spend some time learning how to spell:idea:


Specializes in burn, geriatric, rehab, wound care, ER. Has 25 years experience.

I just had a thought about teeituptom's response -I have heard it said that men tend to be more selfish than women - maybe he can't relate that well because he has employed all these coping mechanisms that he mentioned to stop a case of "the blues" turning into a fully fledged depression. I don't want to get the battle of the sexes going here but I believe women tend to run on empty for far too long before they realize that they have to start to look after themselves, if they ever do realize it at all. I really can't think of any women (let alone female nurses) that would allow themselves the luxury of being selfish enough to employ more than one (if even one) of Tom's coping mechanisms on a regular basis to ease stress and ward off depression.

Researchrabbit - thanks for the info about the relationship of long term stress to depression -I though as much.

Adrienurse - the same sort of thing happened to me a few years ago when my depression came to a head after a brain-injured patient backed me into a corner and sexually assaulted me; I got zero support from administration and zero support from the patient's doctor, who told me it was my fault. I comfort myself by reciting the law of karma - what goes around comes around(although I wish I could be around to see it)

Tom I am hoping that your various un-pc and flippant comments (most likely an attempt to be funny) do not represent who you truly are. That this is just your very obnoxious onscreen persona speaking.

Originally posted by adrienurse

What came first, the chicken of the egg?

As a future nurse, I ask myself what came first: DNA or mRNA. Chickens and eggs came way after the first mRNA snuggled for transcription. :-)

I feel left out and rejected because I have never been depressed. I'm with the posters who say it is a chemical thing, because chemicals rule our foundation for thoughts. For example, if you don't get enough sleep, your brain doesn't produce enough of a certain chemical which allows you to think and move smoothly. Many people, especially nurses I find, brag to each other about the sleep they don't get, or the food they don't eat. How you gonna make the happy brain chemicals and good RBCs if you don't sleep and drink Slimfast, lol.

My mom had a brain chemical imbalance, and so does my sister, so i ain't making fun. I know alot of people do. If you are in a depressed environment growing up (like being cooped up all the time), your hippocampus gets stunted. There have been studies done with brain scans revealing a smaller hippocampus in people who are depressed and had a "dysfunctional" beginning. Also abused people's brains get altered physically, so I read.

Because i don't get depressed, i become the lightning rod for other peoples depressions, so i do in fact suffer WITH it. I would love to understand depression more, like, how to co-exist with folks who are depressed. Feeling sad is no way to feel all the time. Doing that kind of mocks life in a way. Might as well be happy and bright while your able to be. No sense in being a grump. I wish people wouldn't be so grumpy and nervous sometimes.

Depression is a product of our society too. Many folks stay cooped up and are kept aware of super heart-wrenching events on the news, are told they are failures because they look a certain way or are in situtions in which they can not be free. Also, to see people suffering everyday can take a toll.

For me, Nursing has been the OPPOSITE of depresion. Nursing, (my vocation), is an extension of my self to give care/love. Being involved with nursing makes me gram+ to depression :-) It's what I do. Marx would smile knowing that I am a happy worker, because I am. I love to feel needed, and I love to help people. Nursing, for me, IS my anti-depressant drug. And after i help many people for many years, I will feel so good about that too. I'm sorry :-(:kiss


never feel left out because of never feeling the depression......

it is something you do not want to experience......

you are so right, the chicken and the egg did come way after the transcriptinase' (omg, the hour is late, and micro not sure that she spelled t........ right, but not getting out my mosby's just now :/)

but hey, which way did the the egg roll that the rooster laid on the perch of the barn roof........?

oh, this was a serious topic of nursing and depression, sorry micro digresses again.........

nursing and depression.......

no I do not think nursing has led micro into any further of a depression, actually if anything.....it has been a way out......

that micro can give of what micro has.....knowledge, caring and intuition..............to those in need.....

and nobody call micro out for the "stupid" codependency theory of nursing, that we "need somebody to care for"

actually, i care for myself..........

I just thank goodness that medicine and the health care field continues to progress even with its drawbacks..........

will not say more, the hour is late,

micro and out.............

p.s. micro cannot vote on the poll, because micro needs at least an other choice...........

It's interesting to read the replies here. Strictly as an observation, not a criticism, at least half of the posts are not really talking about depression in our profession. Is it so uncomfortable for us to talk and share the experience of depression that we "avoid" it by getting a little off topic? Again, not a criticism at all, please don't think I'm saying that. I'm just pointing out that even when we try to talk about this subject, there seems to be a lot of discomfort about it.

There are different degrees of depression. My hats off to those who can stop the blues by sports, activity, etc. But, when you offer that as a solution, please consider that most clinical depression REQUIRES that you start to feel better just to drag your butt to the doctor to GET a medication and a little help. It isn't a problem where nurses don't take care of themselves. It's a problem where the disease can become so crushing that seeking help isn't always a way out because you're so immobilized by it that you can't. The definitions that research-rabbit posted are helpful, but falls seriously short of describing depression to anyone who hasn't really been there.

Does nursing have a higher rate of depression/anxiety that the national average? Sounds like an excellent study. I hope someone does that kind of research someday.

Adrienurse I'm so sorry this has happened to you! I am going through a meltdown myself these past weeks. Personal problems at home combined with a stressful work environment caused me to just crawl into a shell when I lost a patient. I've asked to be taken off the schedule for the next 6 weeks so I could heal. I keep in touch and have filled in a few 4 hour shifts. No one asks how I'm doing. It's like they can't take on ONE MORE THING! I can't blame them.

Mario, it was like a lighting bolt to read your post. Of COURSE it's horrible to be around someone who's depressed! I don't know why it never occurred to me that my family also suffers when I get this way. I suppose I just don't have anything left to give, so they are the ones who get the brunt of it.

My Grandma used to say, "If you don't have any apples in your basket, you can't give any away!" When someone was in a bad mood we'd say, "She hasn't got any apples today!" Simplistic, but it makes sense!

Just one more thought, by sharing an experience. I work the night shift. When my relief came in, we started the report, counting narcs, etc. For no apparent reason, she burst into tears. Of course, I asked her what was wrong, and shut the door to the med room so we could talk. After listening for awhile, half numb myself, she said, "I guess I need to go to my doctor and get back on my Zoloft." The reason this struck me was because I'd just gotten "back on Zoloft" myself. Someone knocked on the med room door, and it was another nurse from day shift. We let her in because it was a nurse we trusted with our dirty little secret. When she heard what we were talking about, she went over to her purse and pulled out her bottle of Paxil. To make the story a little shorter, by the time all the nurses from two shifts finished talking behind closed doors of that med room, only one nurse hadn't been on an antidepressant or felt she needed to be. Whether or not its a sign of our culture and times, I don't know. But, I can tell you that when we all realized that we were all struggling and hurting, we became a far stronger team of nurses who just stopped letting the little things about each other get to us. In many of my posts I've said, "Be kind to yourself." There's a reason I say that. You don't have to be suicidal for depression to be a serious problem in your life. And, again, it's a disease where you have to get better before you can ask for help. It's a problem that needs to be shared and talked about, so the stigmas of the 1950s lift from this very real disease.

Very well said Youda.

These type of stories are why I insist that we musht embrace one another instead of bite each others head off. I always loved that Indian expression, "To not criticize our neighbors until we have walked a mile in their mocassins".

These positive and patient dialogues are paramount to pealing away the layers that will set us on the right path.. sorry for getting so sappy....

AdriaNurse: I am sorry that happened to you. How brave of you to continue in nursing after such an incident.

(((((((((Nurses))))))))) We work so hard and most of us love what we do.... but the challenges can be overwhelming....

Interesting how when posed with the topic of antidepressents how many of us come out of the closet. Youda, thought provoking story.


I've had my why am I putting myself through this days I could be a shop assistant days.

But I'll let you all into a little secret that will kind of screw up you little survey I was way more off track before I started nursing. I a rotten time at school (guess that's what happens when you're an army kid you move a lot) got into this very bad habit of scratching and cutting my arms (teenagers!!). You'll be glad to know that I kind of grew out of it when I finished school and got out of the situation that used to start it that and the fact I was terrified of my dad figuring out what I did.

So guess what I'm saying is my mental state is much better since I started nursing.:chuckle :imbar

Im gonna play pretend and assert that I think only 7% of nurses take meds to help with their mental functioning. Thats a positive additude, and a recognition that nurses are people too. I can't let these threads paint a picture of all nurses. Some who have been in it for many years speak from experience and I listen.

I know there are many psych drugs, and I'd like to understand how it effects a person's additude and personality more.

Like, is there a certain look to being "depressed" more than the eyes and the gait? Facial expressions. Extremely short tempers. Sensitivity to anything beyond Martha Stewart or Oprah. :-)

I think women are more prone to certain bad mood spells that guys, and because of that, some women will shut any guy out when they are spiriling down. I can imagine that depression and psych meds could be wild cards if you work with the same coworkers.

Mario, I know you're so "medical model" and "everything can be explained on a molecular level" because you've been immersed in studies for A&P and Microbiology. There are just some things about illness, however, that need to be taken on faith. There is not an exact recipe for how to make a depressed nurse. Many factors are involved. Becoming a nurse will not necissarily predispose you to depression. The truth is, besides explaining how the drug works, for example inhibiting neurotransmitter reuptake, it is not fully understood how the drugs effect the personality or the person.

Also, one can only focus on the symptomology when diagnosing depression, it is not as simple as identifying a single look or behaviour. Remember, disorders such as depression are not even considered to be illness unless they start to interfere with physical health and welbeing. Finally, the sufferer is not always even aware that they are depressed due to the complexities of the human brain.

Originally posted by adrienurse

Finally, the sufferer is not always even aware that they are depressed due to the complexities of the human brain.

To make it even more intriquing from a "medical model" point of view is that researchers still can't figure out what causes depression, or even why some of the "psych meds" work. The current THEORY (perhaps only a hypothesis and not yet up to a theory) is an imbalance of the chemicals of the brain. My personal, unstudied, without any studies to back it up belief is that prolonged stress coupled with a genetic predisposition guarantees depression. Where one person would thrive on prolonged stress, such as those who enjoy a fast paced ER, others would find that a recipe for a full-blown clinical depression/anxiety.

In many cases, it isn't a cumlative effect, but a single event that triggers depression or anxiety such as a death or other traumatic (traumatic to that person) event.

But, I digress. To answer Mario's question, the symptoms are mostly subjective. There are some clinical manifestations, but they can't be used as diagnostic, such as: weight loss or gain, changes in baseline vital signs, insomnia or sleeping too much, etc. Obviously, those objective symptoms are too general to apply a diagnosis without the subjective input of the client. To further complicate the picture, many diseases can mimic a true clinical depression such as mild ketoacidosis in a diabetic or an electrolyte imbalance from use of diuretics or as an adverse side effect of a drug, all that will resolve the "depression" when the underlying factor is eliminated.

Adrienne mentioned a very real component in this. A person often doesn't know they are depressed. Again, it is often a situation when "health seeking behaviors" don't occur until you start to feel better.

It's an interesting topic to me (obviously). But, I would propose that eventually the causes for depression will be known. At this point, research is still at the Koch's Postulates era level, if you'll forgive the analogy. For the millions who suffer with this problem, we just take it one day at a time and rejoice in the days when we can.

Thank you very much for opening my mind to people and "depresssions." Your posts are fabulous to read, wow.

I still can't understand nuero-transmitters and how they work. i can't form a picture of something re-up-taking. What makes seratonin? My favorite psych instructor told a story about something called Amaloid (sp) plaque forming on neural-transmitters, and a link to altzhimers. Lifestyle.

I'd love to discover the chemical your brain makes when you sleep, and then make it, and give it to people. Thank you so much again for the most interesting perspectives on depression objectively.sleep.jpg

Mario, You ask if there is a "certain" look when someone is depressed. Believe me, unless you are a master of disguise, you will not mistake the look of depression. Having dealt with my own depressions for better than 20 years, and having taken antidepressants for the entire time, there is no way you wouldn't know when I'm experiencing a depressive mood.

good thread i have taken antidepressants but now i'm not sure if i was depressed or just burntout so much is expected from nurses we have so many different roles i.e mum/dad, wife.husband, son/daughter etc nurse. The nurse bit allows us to be under constant presure from patients their families docs other medical teams the media wow can they slaughter a nurse if she gets it wrong don't see them doing a full article on how they normaly always get it right sometimes i think we reach a point where we have just had enough veral and physical abuse and get 'tired' for want of a better word and where are our managers then they can see whats happening but just want there work area covered so you WILL pull that extra shift no matter that u promised your kids to go somewhere (guilt) somewhere we lose ourselves in all those roles so if taken antidepressents gives you beathing space to find 'YOU' again take them its not so easy to find time to do other things nurses are always playing catch up in their lives because they dont have time or there just to knackered after a shift to do anything but sleep so maybe if you look at the population as a whole there is more depression and stress out there not just in nursing but nurses are supposed to cope with everything so to the nurses who are on antidepresents and are depressed keep taking the pills if they keep you going advice to change your livestyles cant help becuse of the nature of the job and at the end of it most of us love being nurses and don't want to do anything else even if it does kill us LOL

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