Nurses are among the most undervalued professionals in the healthcare industry. They are the ones that serve each patient’s needs as they carry out other orders. Most of them spend long hours on the job and rarely have any time left for themselves and their family. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see nurses, with a heavy heart, choose to leave the profession. Why? Often, it is a way to protect themselves against the harmful effects of burnout and depression. Several surveys have shown that almost half of the nurses surveyed consider quitting their jobs because they are no longer getting job satisfaction. Most of the time, they are overworked and underpaid. Some people from other industries may claim that stress from their job is pretty common. However, they also have to understand that simply being burned out is a lot different from depression.
Depression in the Hospital Setting
In the research conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, about 18% of nurses in the hospital setting exhibited signs of depression. Compared with the general population, this number is high, and it is alarming. Depression, when untreated, can cause a domino of other conditions. It can lead to poor health and poor performance on the job. Nurses are prone to committing medical errors and providing poor patient care, which could further exacerbate their condition. Depression in the hospital setting, if you really think about it, is much worse because most of the time, those in the healthcare industry do not even give it serious thought. Nurses rarely feel that they could be suffering from clinical depression because they would often brush aside their thoughts and feelings as mere signs of fatigue and nothing more. And this is what makes the depression in the hospital setting scary. Some nurses never get the diagnosis they need. In fact, some believe that it has become an epidemic among nurses, especially given that the nursing profession can be ruthless at times. There exists a culture of survival in the nursing profession that may cause nurses to eventually turn away from their jobs. This, however, does not help. Why? Quitting seems to validate their feelings of inadequacy. It is not healthy and it is never going to be healthy. That’s why leaders must come up with a culture that gives importance and appreciation to nurses. They should be supportive of young nurses. They should ditch the idea of hierarchy in the hospital.
Tips for Preventing Depression in Nurses
In most cases, depression is preventable. Nurses, when they feel appreciated for their efforts and given more time for themselves, can quickly deal with feelings of sadness and emptiness. Here are some ways on how nurses can overcome depression:
Schedule Duties Appropriately
Nurses should not be required to work long hours on a regular basis. They should have ample time to take care of themselves outside of work. They should be allowed to do the things that allow them to de-stress and recharged for their next shift.
Staying fit and healthy while working as a nurse should be one of the top priorities of nurses. When their fitness levels are optimal, their stress hormones are lower. Plus, engaging in regular exercise can help nurses gain back the focus they need after each shift at the hospital. Exercises such as running or jogging can help them relieve their body of stress.
Get a Higher Education
Nurses who have a goal rarely quit their jobs. They are more focused on improving their craft in the hopes of improving their job status. Some nurses enroll in higher education. Others choose to leave the hospital setting and instead become teachers. Those who have worked in a hospital setting often have the traits of a good nurse educator because they have a better understanding of what each nurse has to go through to become better at their jobs.
Take a Break
It is okay for nurses to take a break from their profession. Most of the time, they need to get out of a stressful situation to get themselves back on track. Allow yourself to heal and manage your stress before it leads to depressive symptoms. Go on sabbatical leave and explore the world. Travel and let your mind grow and let your body rest. Nurses love their profession, and once they’ve recharged, they will go back and once again take care of other people. This time, armed with how to properly take care of themselves as well. Being in a hospital, whether you are a nurse, a patient, or a doctor, is already stressful enough. When it has become the place where you spend most of your days, it is okay to step back, reassess and refocus, before going back in. It is vital for everybody’s sanity.