Can nurses have an anxiety disorder?
Many nurses complain about experiencing anxiety within the initial few months of their orientation or their first year in the profession.
The nature of the nursing profession is in itself very stressful and requires a lot of assistance. Nurses usually need a lot of help in coordinating, evaluating the care of patients planning, and handling critical medical conditions.
Nurses may experience extreme feelings of anxiety due to the uncertainty of being able to achieve the best outcome for their patients.
It is believed that experiencing anxiety as a nurse is completely normal and will pass once the nurse gets used to their job role.
Apart from this, some other reasons for a new nurse to experience anxiety disorders are:
- Adjusting to the new job environment
- Managing time and prioritizing work
- Feeling incompetent in one’s new job role and being needy.
- Communicating with the senior doctors regarding the patients.
- Fear of making mistakes due to a lack of confidence.
- Communicating with the patients family
- Delegating tasks to junior staff and colleagues and
- Learning to adjust to the systematic approach
What are a few tips for nurses to help decrease their symptoms of anxiety disorder?
Talk it out
New nurses can talk about their situations before it gets very overwhelming. New nurses can speak to their colleagues or mentors.
Get rest for at least 6-8 hours
Considering the nature of the profession it is suggested that nurses get at least 6 to 8 hours of rest each day.
Plan your day in advance
Planning one’s day will decrease the level of anxiety one experiences and give them a sense of control over a situation
Taking deep breaths helps people to feel calm and relaxed. Understanding how to regulate ones breathing will decrease their heart rate and help one to remain calm.
Repeating the same procedure, and the same routine for a couple of days helps to give a sense of confidence to the nurse.
Take care of yourself
The nurse needs to remember that to provide the patient with the necessary care it is required that they are in good health themselves.
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety experienced by nurses?
Anxiety is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms such as:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sense of choking
- Complaints of chest pain
- Shaking or trembling
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
- Fear of losing control over oneself and their environment
- Fear of impending doom
- Hot or cold flashes
- Tingling or numbness
- Increased heart rate
These symptoms vary in severity from person to person. However, it is noted that many people experience anxiety attacks that are not significantly displayed.
What are the main triggers of anxiety disorders for nurses?
Even though anxiety is seen among many individuals, certain triggers make some people more vulnerable to anxiety than others. Some contributing triggers of anxiety are:
An individual is more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety in the presence of chronic or serious health diagnoses such as cancer or diabetes.
Triggers associated with health diagnosis tend to have a strong impact on an individual because of the strong negative thoughts and emotions that are associated with it.
It is believed that many over-the-counter medications may contribute to the symptoms of anxiety in some individuals. This is certainly because of the ingredients in this medication that makes an individual feel uneasy.
Use of caffeine
Even though it is said that the use of caffeine helps to activate an individual’s system, studies show that over usage of caffeine might lead to adverse effects such as anxiety or even depression.
Apart from the overuse withdrawal from caffeine may also lead to anxiety. hence it is suggested that individuals take conscious amounts of caffeine per day.
Apart from environmental factors ones eating habits might also contribute to an individual’s anxiety directly or indirectly. When an individual fails to maintain their food timings it might lead to fluctuations in their blood sugar levels.
These fluctuations might make an individual feel jittery which in turn triggers anxiety.
Hence maintaining a proper schedule and diet is important for various reasons not just for energy but also for maintaining one’s mood.
An individual’s behavior and emotions are certainly controlled by one’s thoughts. When an individual is upset and dwells on negative thoughts it further leads to discomforting emotions and detrimental thoughts causing a vicious cycle.
These negative thoughts are then projected to various areas of an individual’s life creating an overall sense of lack of control over oneself and the environment which triggers anxiety.
Many individuals experience anxiety due to their financial standing. Learning to manage financial triggers requires seeking professional help such as from a financial advisor.
Daily stressors as simple as traffic jams to major ones such as strained relationships might contribute to one’s intensity and frequency of anxiety and anxiety attacks.
However long term or chronic stress leads to long term anxiety and a build-up of negative taught processes and emotions that impact an individual’s mental health
individuals might also experience anxiety as a result of interpersonal or intrapersonal conflicts.
The inability to resolve these conflicts might lead to the buildup of negative thoughts, emotions that overwhelm an individual and trigger anxiety.
Personal triggers can be as minor as a smell, place, or even a song that reminds an individual of negative and discomforting experiences. Personal triggers can remind an individual of an unconscious or conscious dramatic event in an individual’s life that triggers their anxiety.
If you can identify and understand your triggers, you can work to avoid them and learn to cope with them. You can learn specific coping strategies to handle the triggers when they happen.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
What are some ways to manage anxiety experienced by nurses?
Identify and acknowledge the triggers
The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.
Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.
Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.
These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.
A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.
The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.
Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.
Set realistic goals
When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.
Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.
Take up new challenges
Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.
Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.
An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.
A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.
These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.
lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.
Making journal entries
Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.
Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.
In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.
What are the therapy options for anxiety disorders experienced by nurses?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.
As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.
It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.
Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.
Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief.
In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium.
In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation.
Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time
The mental health field can be stressful and anxiety-provoking for many nurses and doctors. being a nurse requires a lot of mental strength and tolerance to stress and disturbances due to the pressure that is caused by the health of a patient.
Avoiding anxiety in such a profession can be impossible however seeking help is available for everyone and must be utilized when required.
What we recommend for curbing Anxiety
Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety
- Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.
- Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.
- Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night. An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.
Frequently asked questions
Is being a new nurse stressful?
Being a new nurse can be stressful due to various job-related or patient-related concerns. A nurse can feel overwhelmed and delusional about their responsibilities during the initial weeks. Some also experience a sense of helplessness and doubt their abilities leading to withdrawal from the role.
Why does nursing give me anxiety?
While nursing comes with many advantages it is not stress-free. Nursing involves long working hours and even double shifts which can lead to physical and mental strains.
What can you do if you hate being a nurse?
If any individual regrets being a nurse they must first try and understand where these feelings are rooted from. If it is due to situational pressure they must try and understand that taking a break might help. However, if they aren’t comfortable with the rules and feel that they do not match their needs and skills then they must reconsider their career options.
Can you become a nurse if you have an anxiety disorder?
Becoming a nurse with an existing mental health condition such as anxiety is possible. Pre-existing mental health conditions do not act as barriers for individuals from being successful.