Nurses play an integral role in our nation’s health care system and are often the most experienced medical practitioners when it comes to anticipating, monitoring and providing for patients’ care and needs. While, in recent years, there’s been more focus on the physical health of nurses with regard to preventing back and other musculoskeletal injuries, not all injuries can be diagnosed via a physical exam or MRI.

According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who suffer from depression are likely to experience a range of disruptive symptoms including sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, agitation, trouble concentrating and psychosomatic ailments. These symptoms are often highly disruptive and can negatively impact an individual’s private and professional lives.

Nationally, an estimated nine percent of the U.S. adult population is believed to suffer from depression. However, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, depression rates among U.S. nurses are closer to 18 percent. Given the high-stress conditions associated with the health care and nursing profession, it’s no wonder that so many nurses experience signs of depression and the resulting complications.

Individuals with depression are more prone to be overweight, report pain and illness, develop problems with substance abuse, isolate socially and experience relationship difficulties. These serious complications coupled with the known side effects of this serious mental health disorder put the health and wellbeing of both the nurses who have depression as well the patients they treat in danger.

In an effort to shed light on this important issue, health care advocates encourage hospitals and nurse managers to raise awareness among nursing staff members about the signs of depression and encourage that they get help. Additionally, many hospitals are taking steps to develop programs that have been proven effective in helping nurses reduce and manage stress.

Source:, “Depression: A silent epidemic for nurses: Nurses suffer from depression at twice rate of general population,” David Ferguson, March 4, 2016