New Study Reveals Nurses Suffer Depression at Twice the Rate of General Population

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smiling nurseMany studies have shown that high-stress lives can contribute to depression or make existing depression symptoms worse. But a new study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, revealed that some of the most important members of the workforce, nurses, suffer depression at twice the rate of the national population.

Nursing is a high-stress job, often accompanied by long hours, intense situations, and both physical and mental exhaustion. All of these are factors for depression, and the study, published in the May/June issue of Clinical Nurse Specialist, found that hospital-employed nurses experience depression and/or depression symptoms at a rate of 18%. The general public’s rate of depression is 9%.

This is a worrying statistic. Depression can have a negative impact on job productivity, and patients, doctors, and other hospital staff depend on nurses to keep people safe and hospital productivity flowing. If nurses are depressed, they, just like others with depression, “often exhibit a downturn in mood, have difficulty concentrating and are accident-prone; their ability to perform mental or interpersonal tasks may be compromised, they struggle with time management and have lower output than non-depressed workers,” researchers said.

The good news of the study? According to Susan Letvak, an associate professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina and a nurse herself, advanced practice nurses (those with additional and specialized training) are in a position “to recognize depression in staff nurses and to let them know about confidential, and accessible, treatment options.”

In any high-stress job, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and take steps to minimize the effects of stressors on our physical and mental health. For some great tips, check out our Coping with Stress Brochure, or watch an archived copy of our Coping with Stress and Depression Webinar.

Do you have stories to share about stress in your own life, or a story about a great nurse who helped you in a time of need? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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