"1 in 5 Nurses Is Depressed." Pretty stunning headline. That is according to an article that I found in HealthLeaders Media.
I admit I suffer from anxiety. Although I havenít been told that I have been diagnosed with depression, I believe my doctor believes I am, because in treating my anxiety we use antidepressants and anxiolytics. I know a lot of coworkers suffer from issues as well, so I got to wondering if it was something that was due to our line of work or our specialty. That previously mentioned article said that this statistic applies to hospital nurses and is double that of the general public.
So how do we go about decreasing this number? I donít think we can, but we need to follow the advice we give our patients.
We need to remember to take time to relax. This may mean taking time away from your floor for your break, taking time off for a ďstaycation,Ē or doing things on your day off to disconnect for a while (that's right, no technology or cellphones).
We need to fit exercise into our lives. Some of the girls I work with somehow find the strength and energy to go to the gym after work. Others think we get plenty of exercise on our work days so we fit it into our days off. My goal is to exercise on at least two of my days off. (Iím not kidding when I say we get lots of exercise during the day. Itís a rare day if we donít log at least 10,000 steps!)
We also need to focus on nutrition. I know itís hard for many hospital nurses to get a break, especially one that allows enough time to eat a balanced lunch. If we eat at all in the morning, itís probably a granola bar, piece of fruit, or a donut with some coffee or other form of caffeine.
Lunch is usually something quick, and usually unhealthy. Dinner, again, if eaten, is something quick, whether that be fast food or a microwave meal. I have been trying to fix this. I canít much change my breakfast, as I've never been a breakfast eater. I try to bring my lunch every day to prevent a trip to the cafeteria and include in this something from each food group.
As for dinners on work days, itís either a Crockpot meal or something I pick up on the way home, but I try to focus on getting as many food groups included as possible and staying low-cal. I have also been doing a meal planning service since August. This helps me to come up with different meals each week, and each meal includes all food groups, takes less than 30 minutes to create, and tastes amazing.
Along with all of this, we need to be getting enough sleep. For those who are depressed, this is not always an issue, as we sometimes just want to sleep all the time. It does mean having proper room temperature and as few distractions as possible. That means turning the TV off. It also sometimes means hiding clocks. Set your alarm and turn the clock away from your bed. This decreases light and also keeps you from focusing on the self-dialogue of ďI have been trying to sleep for __ minutesĒ or ďI only have ___ more hours until I have to be up.Ē
The last, and possibly most important, thing we need is support. Be open and honest about your feelings, both with your coworkers and family. When my problems began, I told only my family. They were the ones who supported me when I needed someone to talk to. I then opened up to my close friends, including those at work. At this time, I also started seeing a psychologist and told my boss. I thought my boss should know I was going through a rough time and was trying to work through it. So far, I have been receiving ongoing support from family, friends, and coworkers, including my boss.
Now that I am starting to understand my own illness and struggle, I am trying my best to raise awareness that you can be successful and happy when faced with depression and anxiety. Itís OK to talk about it.
Regarding the 1 in 5 statistic, on any given day, at least two other coworkers are fighting the fight inside their minds. Does it help that we work in oncology and deal with loss on a daily basis? Probably not. What does help is being honest with ourselves and those around us that we are struggling, need help, and sometimes just need a hug or a pat on the back to remind us that we are cared about and are doing a good job.