Nursing & Depression

Nurses Stress 101


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  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.
    • 260
      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

460 members have participated


7 Posts

I am not a nurse yet, but a pre-nursing student. I searched for this thread because I am concerned that my new career choice is going to trigger new and worse episodes of depression than I have ever dealt with...hopefully I'm wrong and it will bring a new sense of satisfaction to my life! I am now 25 and I have been on zoloft twice (about a year each time) and am now taking St. John's Wort (which actually seems to work, or at least has a nice placebo effect :D) I never want to have to go back on zoloft...the side effects when coming off of it were gruesome and I never want to have to go through that suffering again!

Lately, I have been thing about this question of nursing and depression and have come to the conclusion that I really believe that because of my experiences with depression, along with witnessing the slow and painful death of my father from a rare disease, that really feeling and knowing about suffering is one reason I felt the need to be a nurse. I feel compassion for others that have gone through tremendous amounts of suffering...but I am also stronger from it. Perhaps this is why many nurses have depression? Because the depression came first, and then the call to nursing? Which came first the depression or the nurse? :D

I actually feel great right now, confident and healthy, but still a little worried about the cloud that always seems to loom in the distance (in my memory if not in my actual life)...hopefully I'll notice it before it gets too close and be able thwart it off!

Anyway, I know there's not much advice you can give to someone who has overcome depression several times already in their this point I have already learned many tricks and usually know what works for me...I guess I just wanted to read about other nurse's experiences and share mine, because if anything is more useful to battling depression (and the battle never ceases) it is to know that you are not alone.

Hugs and good luck to u all!


52 Posts

Specializes in med-surg/ tele.

Just about every nurse I know either smokes, are on anti-depressants or both. My parents are nurses, too - both are on different antidepressants. We all work acute care full-time. I have been on Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil and Lexapro. I have now been on Effexor XR now for about a year and it's working fine. I feel like myself. I keep Clonidine 0.1mg in my bag and take one or two when I'm working one of those shifts from H***!! I told my PCP about my issues and that I had researched this so he was more than willing to try it out since we work together anyway. I believe that as nurses (especially bedside nurses), put our own well-being on the back burner and we usually never get around to taking care of ourselves like we should. We work our 12-14 hours, go home to our families, cook dinner, help with homework, etc and fall into bed. We all know the ritual... What else can we do?


79 Posts

I dont understand why so many people are on drugs for so called or alledged depression.. I think its way overplayed in the news, the medias and everything else. ...

Remember little problems are actually no problems, and all problems are little problems.

(My bold highlighting). Please excuse my bluntness, and the fact I haven't read the rest of the thread, but teeitupmom, if you're reading, it seems pretty clear you have no personal experience with depression. As other posters have said, unless you've actually suffered from depression first hand, you can't really understand how it feels.

Sadly it's posts like these that propagate the myth that those suffering from depression can, or should, simply "snap out of it" and get on with things. It really isn't that simple... I wish it was.

Specializes in Critical Care, Palliative Care/Hospice.

When I started in nursing, I worked nights in an ICU. I was also newly married, so that didn't make life any easier (for either one of us!). I worked nights for years before that as a tech/phleb, but for some reason, everything got worse as a nurse. It is stressful, and if you are around sickness and death as often as some of us are, it has got to take a toll on you whether you acknowledge it or not. In the last year I finally went to my PCP with whom I had a good relationship and told him I was having trouble sleeping, worsening headaches, and overall just felt lethargic. I knew I should get up and work out, find joy in hobbies, etc... but I just had a hard time doing those things. I put up with the emotional aspects of depression for a long time, but when I started having trouble sleeping, aches/pains, migraines, and trouble concentrating, I sought help. I saw a counselor as well as started the rounds of anti-depressants. It took awhile to find one that I could tolerate that helped, and then finding a dosage that worked well took time too. Most nurses I know are on some type of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med, those that aren't smoke or have other "therapeutic" things they do-some are into heavy exercise, drinking, etc... But then again, alot of the nurses I know are in critical care areas. I think alot of people won't admit they need help or are on meds because of the very attitudes in this thread....the "why can't you just find a hobby, take up golfing, etc..." attitude. Its a shame really, as much as I believe that we over-medicate as a society, there are some people out there that have no idea they could feel better with medications.


33 Posts

Specializes in LTC/ Rehab, Home Health...

I have suffered from depression all my adult life. It has caused problems in my marriage, work performance, my ability to excell at my profession, rerlationships with others outside my family. If you have never experienced depression, you cannot understand the profound effects it has on ones life. Clinical depression is not the same as having the "blues" and it does not respond to typical approaches made by those who have just "blue" day. No amount of going out with friends, excersising, sex, the perfect job, man, whatever. It takes the right medication and amount to bring the brain chemistry back to normal and sometimes you have to try different antidepressants before finding the right one. Thankfully, I've been on an antidepressant that works and even though I still have bad days, the medication keeps everything in balance.

Specializes in Critical Care, Capacity/Bed Management.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of the wonderful people who posted on this thread.

I have been working in nursing for the past few years. In 2007 I had my first panic tack and never had one again until August of this year. Circumstances in my life changed rather quickly in that month and I had to leave school, developed severe gastritis and began suffering from anxiety attacks. My friend and co-worker said she was worried and talked to me about therapy. I have been seeing my therapist faithfully and I believe I now have anxiety and slight depression.

This thread has helped me realize that it is okay to be on medication, I was always afraid of the stigma associated. Now I understand that sometimes it is necessary and no one should be ashamed. So once again thank you all for helping me understand that I am not alone.


1 Post

Ever struggled tirelessly for weeks, years even, only you be told you're not good enough? Ever been offered a dream job you couldn't take because someone above you decided you weren't ready yet? Ever battled with depression and shyness, been misunderstood, gossiped about and watched, closely, by people just waiting for a slip up, a reason, any reason to fail you and not to see you make it through, but to mess with your life. That's what I'm going through right now. That has been my experience in my Bachelor of Nursing degree.

I had a new grad position in my dream hospital. I had just 6 weeks left of clinical. But my depression, it just got in the way. I started ruminating on clinical, losing my focus, underperforming. I started making mistakes, stupid mistakes like trying to transfer patients without supervision, I almost took an arterial line out without being supervised. I should know better but I just lost the plot.

Today I had what could be called a nervous breakdown on clinical when I was informed I was very likely not going to be able to pass. I went semi-catatonic, stopped functioning and later tried to harm myself. I ended up in Psych ED. I have been through a lot in my life, but this was a first.

I just feel picked on, misunderstood. I'm a quiet, sensitive, mild person. People tend to think I just don't care, am lazy or unfriendly. I was told by my RN mentor that when I was good, I was great. But when I was bad, I was terrible. It's true... I'm fully competent. I KNOW I am no less competent than any other student. But this illness... it's just killing me.

I had a job lined up, a new grad position that I fought hard for, interviewed for and rightly won. Now it's up in smoke because I won't be registering for another 6 months. I am devastated, but I haven't even told my girlfriend yet, who has waiting so very long for me to finish, as have I.

I had problems like this in the past. I was taken out of a previous clinical because of my performance, which was also the result of depression and insomnia. I fought with the Nursing faculty to get them to organise a makeup. You wouldn't believe what I went through and the opposition I had to face. They probably thought I was being disingenuous and kept going on about me not meeting the "3rd year standard". No doubt, I've got "the problem student" label now. Is it fair?

I am lost. I was so close to making it out. So close... and you know what, I'm glad this happened. I don't think I want to be a nurse any more. For my own health and wellbeing. I just don't think this kind of organisational culture is for me. I don't feel like I fit in, and the treatment I have suffered just brings the point home. My experience with the profession has been horribly tainted and I just don't want to subject myself to it anymore. I will finish my degree but I will be looking for a more suitable career in the meantime (suggestions welcome).


33 Posts

SuchIsLife...much of what you and others on here wrote I too have experienced...the dream job offer only to screw it up because of anxiety, depression, rumination...I have tried, for YEARS, to control my thoughts, "think happy", taking over the counter herbs, exercise, eat right - you name it. The fact is, for some of us, the TRUE clinical depression is not something we can think, pray, eat or exercise our way out of. I know the stats on meds, I also personally know people who have gone on them and their lives have been returned to them. For me, this weekend, was it. I am 2 months behind on my mortgage, I shower but that's it - no hair done, no make-up, I wear the same clothes over and over again though I do wash them, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is an effort - to get up, to bathe, to get to the store so there is something in the house to eat, I care about almost nothing...I have basically ruined more opportunities professionally that I can recall, have job hopped to the point there is no hopping anymore, I have no friends and like some on here don't have much to do w/family - for no reason than just the thought of getting in the car to do somewhere exhausts me. I can't sleep, I stay anxious but I stay exhausted - like you I feel isolated and like an outcast. I wasn't always like this...lots of "life" happened in the past 8-9 years and while I always struggle w/anxiety and depression these events - especially one in 2009 - increased the downward slide. It's not like one day you are ok and the next you aren't - clinical depression is an insidious disease, it robs you of everything - self esteem included - in a way that you don't really notice at first - like a GI bleed.

For me, there is no other option but medication. I know that now. I have a BSN, have been a nurse for 22 yrs and am a few classes shy of a Masters...and where will I be working? Part time at a flu clinic just to have money coming in. My depression had effected my marriage, every single part of my existence - which is no way to live. Monday I am calling my primary doc because I know I can get in fast to see him and get on something...I am calling a psych and a therapist too - these people, the therapy and the medication, are for me, the last hope before I simply STOP functioning at all. Depression/anxiety runs in my family so I know there is a genetic component. I realize nothing - not my personal or professional life - is going to turn around until I get stable or at least enough self esteem and worth to value myself enough to try to save myself from falling. My spouse can't help me - be has tried - it's up to me - just as it's up to you. I don't care what anyone thinks about medication, like I said, I've seen first hand what it can do for people - side effects? I'm sure there are going to be some but can the side effects be any worse than foreclosure? Lying in bed all day feeling overwhelmed by blackness? I don't think so. I hope you are able to find some relief. I really do. Good luck friend.

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