Can Nursing School Make You Depressed?

can nursing school make you depressed

Of all careers, preparing to work in healthcare can be rewarding, and at the same time, incredibly stressful.

This is especially true when preparing to be a nurse. Nursing school is not for the faint of heart and is a commitment that can take anywhere between 2 to 4 years to complete.

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Can Nursing School Cause Depression?

If you’re planning to attend nursing school, you need to know it’s stressful. This stress can lead to issues such as anxiety and depression. If you’re a nursing student experiencing these mental illnesses, help and coping skills are available so you can still be successful in school.

My Experiences
I remember when I was in nursing school, I was really stressed. While I never sought professional help (bad idea), I know that my stress level got so bad that my quality of life deteriorated slightly.

I wasn’t eating as well as I should have. I wasn’t working out.

Looking back on that time, I definitely had depressive symptoms. You might be wondering, what’s the point of telling you all this?

It’s so that if you start feeling overwhelmed by stress while in your nursing program, make sure to seek out professional health.

Don’t let any potential mental health issues linger and potentially get worse.

Before continuing, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about depression and some signs and symptoms of depression.

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If you need a tutor for school, you can find one using this online platform. The tutors are vetted, and you pick the time that works for your schedule. Whether it’s for nursing school, nursing school prereqs, or any school-related subject, this is a platform you should check out.

What is Depression?

Depression is a debilitating yet common mental health disorder that affects over 16 million people or 6.7% of the population in the United States.

Depression can be characterized by episodes of extreme sadness that can last for weeks and months, if not years at a time.

Although almost everyone will experience some form of sadness during difficult times, depression is different. Depression symptoms must last for over two weeks and severely impact your quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

With depression, symptoms that you might begin to notice and must seek professional help for can include:

  • Feelings of sadless, hopelessness, or grief
  • Bouts of crying spells
  • Low energy levels
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite
  • Negative thinking patterns
  • Intrustive thoughts that won’t go away

In severe cases of depression, thoughts of suicide can begin to emerge, and some people might even begin to prepare for this.

Whether you’re a nursing student or not or have a family member you believe might be suicidal, it’s important to seek help.

In an emergency situation, you should call 9-1-1 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Pro-Tip
Professional help could be reaching out to your primary care physician or a licensed mental health therapist.

As mentioned above, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in extreme situations.

What Causes Depression?

stressed student in nursing school

Depression can have a variety of causes. As a nursing student, you might be experiencing added stress which can contribute to thoughts and feelings of depression.

However, depression has other causes that might be contributing to your depression that don’t have anything to do with nursing school.

Some common causes of depression include:

  • Certain medications
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Changes in brain chemistry and biology
  • Past abuse and trauma
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Life stressors
  • Recent loss of a loved one 

Other times, the cause of depression is not immediately clear, making it difficult for people to seek treatment.

Nursing and Depression

Now that you know what causes depression and how certain risk factors can put you at risk for developing depression, it’s important to understand the role of working as a nurse and depression.

Recent studies have shown that anxiety and depression had a staggering incidence rate of 25% among healthcare professionals. 

As a nursing student, you might already be working in the medical field, doing difficult job duties, and dealing with the emotional trauma that accompanies these fields of work.

You might also be getting exposed to stories and real-life scenarios of sick patients that can cause feelings of depression to worsen.

In addition, you might also be undergoing stress in nursing school caused by:

  • Failing grades
  • Difficult tests
  • Difficult clinicals
  • Packed course load
  • Busy schedules
  • Financial stress from nursing school
  • Lack of social support
  • Dwindling social life
  • Relationship issues due to conflicting priorities

If you’ve been struggling with these issues during nursing school. Or you maybe failed nursing school as 20% of students do. These can all certainly lead to symptoms of depression developing.

What To Do If You Have Depression

a nurse that is very stressed

Only a medical or mental health professional can officially diagnose you with depression.

You should get help immediately from a healthcare professional and inform them of your depression. They can offer treatment options to help improve your mood and lessen your risk of depression turning severe.

Treatment for depression can include:

  • Medications such as anti-depressents and SSRI’s
  • Talk therapy with a therapist or psychologist
  • Self-help workbooks such as cognitive-behavioral therapy workbooks
  • Medical procedures such as ECT and TMS
  • Hospitalization for emergency situations
  • Residential or inpatient mental health treatment

Certain lifestyle changes can also help improve your depression. These include reaching out to family and friends for extra support, engaging in more exercise.

Exercise has been shown to boost feel-good endorphins and naturally fight off depression. Along those same lines, a healthy diet may help as well.

Talk to a Therapist Online

Venting can be very therapeutic but relying too much on friends and family can be a bad thing. Instead, seek out a licensed therapist who’s also a neutral third party at your convenience. For a limited time get a 20% discount.

Getting Help for Depression in Nursing School

As a nursing school student, you might face difficult situations and suffer from depression.

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to treat depression that can help you, or a loved one, improve your quality of life and mood.

If you’ve suffered from depression or know someone who has, what treatments helped you? Do you think nursing school made your depression symptoms worse? Comment your thoughts below!

Hire a Tutor for School

If you need a tutor for school, you can find one using this online platform. The tutors are vetted, and you pick the time that works for your schedule. Whether it’s for nursing school, nursing school prereqs, or any school-related subject, this is a platform you should check out.

Have You Read These Yet?

Frequently Asked Questions

Prolonged stress on nursing students can impact their academic performance both in the classroom and the clinical setting. Nursing students should seek out professional help.

To mentally survive nursing school, nursing students should develop a routine and seek out peer groups that will also double as a social support system during the rest of their time in the program.

Nursing school does cause anxiety, especially during your first year in nursing school and also right before a big exam.

In many ways, nursing school is more stressful than working as a nurse. The big difference is that if you work in a nursing job that’s very stressful in the back of your mind, you know you can always leave that job for a less stressful nursing job if you want. That’s not an option in nursing school.

Many nursing students are under a lot of stress because of how rigorous nursing school is.

Make sure to seek out your primary care doctor or a mental health professional for help. Here are some ways to try to manage a little stress and anxiety

  • Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Forming good sleep habits