Panic attacks and losing my mind

Nurses Stress 101


I don’t even know where to begin, I’m beyond burnt out. I’ve been in health care since 2013, started as a CNA and now I’m a nurse working in a busy clinic. I’ve been in many different specialities, I keep changing paths because I get so burnt out and can’t find joy in what I do anymore. I’m having panic attacks at least every other day. I never used to get them at work but it’s been getting to the point where I’ve had two breakdowns at work recently. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist, I’ve reached out for help. I even told hr what was going on and asked about medical leave. Here’s the thing, I have a plan, I know how I want to get out of nursing and change career paths. But it’s going to take a year to do. I’m going to get a massage therapy license, my dream is to work with clients who have mental illness and do trauma informed massage techniques. While this dream has me holding on to hope, it feels so far away. And my current work environment toxic. One of the providers is crazy, I don’t say that often but she’s got such a god complex and I really think she has narcissistic personality disorder. Today she tried to get me in trouble because I refilled lexapro for a patient… I have prescription rights to refill meds… she literally said “why are you refilling a controlled substance”. Lexapro… an antidepressant. I just can’t wrap my brain around her behavior, she tries to put people down and point out there mistakes to make herself look better. And our manager doesn’t help. When this provider goes to her and complains about people, instead of my manager coming to me or that person she was complaining about and asking their side of the story, she takes the providers side. There have been so many instances where I have been the blame, literally everything falls on me because I am the nurse at the clinic. I can’t take it anymore. Oh. And they’ve put me on corrective action because I keep calling off because I have panic attacks and get so depressed I can’t do anything.  I’ve been applying for jobs but I really don’t know how much more I can take before I snap at someone… and im a nice person! This isn’t who I am. I don’t feel like my self anymore and I don’t know how to get out of it. I can’t afford to just quit. if I go on leave of absence then I have to come back to this clinic that I don’t want to work at, and I’m not sure if I could continue school. I don’t know what to do in the meantime that will pay my bills and not be as stressful.  Just a rant I guess. Does anyone else have panic attacks? How do you manage them at work? How do you cope in a toxic environment? 

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,515 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health.

There are a million jobs available out there. Nursing and non nursing. Don't worry about work. Put that energy into finding something with insurance that will pay the bills while you go after what you want. You are not locked into any employer these days.


I totally agree with the person above who said not to put much thought into the current work situation. I know, easier said that done! But put all the energy into planning an immediate escape from this employer and finding someone else who will enable you to pay your bills for the next year while you make your exit out of nursing altogether. 

I am going to take a guess that you come from a background with some trauma, which is why you may feel called to work with others who are healing from trauma too. As a person whose overcome a lot of my CPTSD, I just know how uniquely difficult it can be to be in environments where the interpersonal relationships are toxic. This employer seems like a huge trigger for you because of that, so it stands to reason that while nursing has been difficult your entire career, this particular setting has you practically disabled with anxiety and depression. 

Please leave this employer, you can do a lot better and this isn’t you, like you said. I used to have really bad panic attacks a few years ago, before I became a nurse, and what worked for me was changing the settings that were really triggering me and also doing spiritual warfare as a believer in God and Yeshua. I truly believe panic attacks are caused by dark forces, sometimes those forces are outside of our circumstances (ie: no known trigger), and sometimes the dark forces are people in our lives who are being driven by evil (like this provider who is mistreating you constantly). If you have any questions about this and what worked for me please feel feee to reach out! 

I will pray for you and believe in my heart that ONLY better things are on the horizon for you!


10 Posts

I am in the same situation in a toxic clinic environment and about to leave. I often to excuse myself to refill my water and take a breather/moment before returning if I start feeling panicky. Work with the same kind of providers with god-like complexes and am over it-hence why I am leaving. Manager will also take the providers side over mine any day. 


19 Posts

Do you feel joy outside of work as well?

I wasn't happy until I found my current job. I thought I hated nursing but I just hated where I was. When I started treating work as just work and when I'm clocked out I don't even think about it, it helped me.

MrChicagoRN, RN

2,597 Posts

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care.

It's been almost a year and a half since you posted, so I hope you have reached your goal and it's working out for you.

For anyone just reading the original post right now, please realize that you are rarely ever locked into any job. It's OK to take a different job, even if it's short term, while in pursuit of the bigger LT goal.

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