1 in 5 Nurses is Depressed

While depression can contribute to lowered productivity and workplace absenteeism, in nurses the symptoms can also jeopardize patient care. The root of the trouble is that nurses often don't recognize depression in themselves, says a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

10 comments on "1 in 5 Nurses is Depressed"
Beverly Evans (2/21/2013 at 4:55 PM)

Thank you for this information. It helps me to know I am not alone. What I would like to know: is there any assistance for nurses who have damaged their careers because of this disease? I have lost several jobs and am having a hard time finding work now. Only since I've been unemployed have I had the opportunity to research the disease. During none of these employments has a manager reached out to me although all the signs were there.During my research I have found that employers have resources to help nurses with depression, I was never offered help, just terminated. I am doing everything I can to get back on my feet, medications, counseling, supplements, exercise, relaxation, etc. but I need some career guidance.
karenpsychrn (7/14/2012 at 11:41 AM)

This is a very hot topic with me, as I have experienced this on more than one occasion in my career, almost leaving nursing at one time. One of the problems with being able to help nurses feel better about themselves and their job is that the people who are in those management positions who are supposed to have an obligation to nurture their nursing staff are not in those positions for that purpose. They are in those positions to keep the bloodline pure and prevent cross breeding. In my 20 years as a nurses, I have had very few experiences of having a manager who gave a darn about their staff. Nurses are afraid to advocate for anyone, let alone themselves, and they become depressed and less productive over time due to things like calling off d/t burnout and fatigue, not doing certain things on the unit for fear of being fired, coming to work and doing just the minimum to get out of there at the end of their shift with all their parts intact. People assume psych nurses "should know what to do and should not feel this way". That is so very wrong, and psych nurses actually can have greater issues with it because we do know what has to be done, but we are not allowed to do what needs to be done for ourselves, which trickles down our patients and other staff. No amount of knowledge can prevent life from happening. Nurses can handle a lot of things if they are supported and nurtured; however, when there is not that major factor present in the milieu, the tire tracks begin to build up from being thrown under the bus repeatedly. Just from my own work area, I would even venture to say that more than 1 in 5 nurses are depressed. The 1 in 5 are just those who are somehow able to report it without being found out and fired for speaking out. It is really sad to see our patients telling us they feel bad for us and that they wish they could do something to make our work easier. they witness what nurses endure at the hand of that mythical management obligated to making the workplace nurse-friendly. My co workers, including those who have been fired over trying to make things better, are visibly depressed but will not go any further than talking amongst themselves because of the current plan by management to get rid of all of the seasoned nurses. THere is much spiritual pain in the ranks of nursing. I hope to see more studies, my own included eventually, about how to fix what is happening to nurses. There is really no need for someone who teaches others how not to be depressed to be depressed themselves. Thank you for opening up this topic. I look forward to more information and ideas.
Ellen Hall (7/13/2012 at 9:04 AM)

Perhaps it isn't the occupation which is responsible for such a high level of depression, but the personalities of the individuals who pursue a career in nursing that is actually the root cause? Just food for thought.
kit (7/3/2012 at 3:29 PM)

I am a NP who is also an epidemiologist. The IOM report on the future of nursing should include nursing friendly parameters. The prior writer is correct... Depression this wide spread likely has an occupational correlation. Therefore, we need a head to head RNs at well staffed hosp vs RNs at poorly staffed hosp Confirm median PHQ9 You could also study a naive cohort in a substudy to check internal validity. Staff that are abused are likely to be dysphoric.. Shame on 21st century Med leaders for ignoring this.
joan lawrence (7/2/2012 at 8:01 PM)

STAFFING, STAFFING, STAFFING!!! When oh when will someone figure out that there would be no nursing shortage, no unhappy patients, fewer lawsuits, nurses more willing and able to pursue higher degrees of eduction and a lot less depression if nurses weren't expected to work in an impossible environment. I am amazed daily that anyone at all ever stays in nursing after they experience it. I am also constantly disappointed that I have to feel dissatisfied with my own performance because it JUST CAN'T BE DONE.
John Kauchick,RN,BSN (6/29/2012 at 8:27 PM)

I think the fact that the industry continues not to address hostile work environment that local managers generate/enable is a huge factor in nurse depression. Plenty is written about how leadership style effects turnover/health/safety culture, yet still no accountability/standards.
Jackie Laughlin (6/29/2012 at 2:55 PM)

love your thoughtful comments. Opens the door to creating supportive work environments for those who entered their profession to care for others. Also appreciate the post regarding compassion fatigue and reading on self care
Anthony_Cirillo_32556 (6/26/2012 at 4:03 PM)

To "Or Maybe" Point well taken. I do l=believe that hospitals are suffering a crisis of conscience. Some not all. And it starts at the top. The Raleigh and Charlotte Observer series on hospital collection processes clearly brought this to light. You cannot possibly have a complete patient experience when you are putting liens on people's houses and causing them so much stress as to exacerbate their illness. That culture is set from the top.
Anthony_Cirillo_32556 (6/26/2012 at 3:21 PM)

While early detection and treatment is a worthy goal, you still end up treating symptoms and not root causes. With all the attention on patient experience, this is alarming because patient experience comes down to human compassion and empathy. And you cannot be compassionate to others unless you first are to yourself. Fred Lee, the author of "If Disney Ran Your Hospital" says that you can hardwire competence. You can hardwire courtesy. But he asks, can you hardwire compassion? In her TED Talk "The Power of Vulnerability" Brene Brown explores this further looking at how people can embrace their vulnerabilities and imperfections so that they engage in their lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness. She calls these wholehearted people and they exhibit the following: ? The courage to be imperfect. ? The compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because as it turns out, she says, you can't practice compassion with other people if you can't treat yourself kindly. ? The ability to connect as a result of authenticity – people willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are more openly and naturally connect with others. Patricia Smith, founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project states that "Caring too much can hurt. When caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviors can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions and substance abuse head a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder now labeled Compassion Fatigue." Tom Voccola of CEO2 (www.ceo2.com) contends that when you master self, all else follows. You can then master relationships and then the work you do. But it starts with you. In essence, when you master who you are, you show up in every aspect of your life authentically. That authenticity allows you to connect with people and build lasting and meaningful relationships. And that foundation is the basis for individual and organizational success.
Or Maybe... (6/26/2012 at 2:53 PM)

nurses are just depressed from working in the bureaucratic, corporate, souless hospitals where every other week there is some new hoop to jump through that moves them ever farther away from having the time and energy to really engage and help people while all the executives get big dollar payouts to implement and chisel away at everyone below them. THe best part is when those same hospital do all that under the guise of a non-profit religous entity. I look forward to the brave new world of a healthcare system ran and monopolized by these great and effecient ACO's. Will will not be denied a king.


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