8 years and diagnosed with PTSD


I need some advice! I'm going crazy and as most of us know, no one can understand a nurse better than another nurse.

I have been working in stepdown, ICU, and over the past year in ER for a total of 8 years. I've always had the type of personality that makes you more prone to worry. In nursing school I remember having anxiety that I wouldn't make it, pass boards, etc. Then as a New graduate that I wouldn't be adequate enough. Here I am 8 years down the road a very good/confident nurse but the stress of he job has overtaken my life. My anxiety got worse with each child ( I now have 2). I have seen so many negative things over the past 8 years, a lot of death, a lot of horrible things as you all know. I have become a total hypochondriac, every time I have a bump or ache or either one of my kids do I jump to the worst conclusion. I have an obsession with cancer and am terrified that I am going to die or one of my kids is. To make a long story short I was diagnosed with PTSD and have anxiety and depression. My counselor suggests that I take a break for nursing but I can't quit for another 6 months because of financial reasons. I am not interested in taking meds and prefer to take a natural approach.

Its unfortunate because I know I'm a good nurse and to quit feels like I'm giving up and not contributing to a profession I love but I feel like it's ruining my life. I'm incredibly negative and pessimistic, never having hope for any patients I take care of anymore. Please help! I need advice from other nurses who can understand me.

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

Why not try another area of nursing? There are so many areas that don;t deal with death and disease all day- perhaps this change might help?


3 Posts

First off - I totally have the same fears! Its hard to extinguish that fire when you get so caught up in your thoughts/feelings. However, ANXIETY DOESN'T MEAN YOU CANT STILL BE A GREAT AND PRODUCTIVE NURSE. And I totally mean that! I worked my butt off in home health for a couple of years and it made me so anxious caring for patients that could potentially fall, die, etc. and I was constantly questioning my judgement. A friend of mine was working in a substance abuse facility and suggested I work there as an RN. It was the BEST thing I ever did. Of course I still have some acute cases and patients have died, but it is FAR better than what I was doing before. I have constant support from my fellow co workers. Fortunately, nursing has so many unique paths that aren't necessarily hospital-based. I would encourage you to give another specialty a try!


6 Posts

I understand. I have anxiety depression panic attacks and been diagnosed with ptsd. This year literally almost killed me. My health got so bad I couldn't function. Things went down at work and turned my world. I even had suicidal thoughts. I am still struggling but fortunately I haven't wanted to commit suicide in months and my health is a little better. I take medication and go to a therapist. Hang in there you are not alone. The struggle is awful.


510 Posts

Come to public health or school nursing (or a clinic, or an outpatient procedure setting, or many other places outside of the hospital)! Come see some regular people who aren't circling the drain. Today I did health education about iron deficiency anemia, I went over a gluten-free diet for a kid with celiac disease, I helped a coworker with her carb counting for insulin coverage, I went over contraceptive options with a student, and I worked on referring a kid to a program to help her get new glasses.

Emergencies can happen anywhere, but the world outside the hospital is different. You've done your time in the trenches. I's OK to take a job that doesn't push you to your maximum capacity 100% of the time. Really!

And normal-people hours....just sleep and a regular schedule, alone....can change your whole perspective. 100% worth the pay cut, if you ask me.