Critical Care Nurses and PTSD

Critical care nurses witness a number of outcomes to tragic events, which can leave a lasting impression on them. Seeing injuries, battle wounds, and other ailments can be a reminder of the horrible, unfortunate events that do occur in life, and this can perpetuate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since this is part of the nursing profession, critical care nurses are subject to being exposed to these types of circumstances on a daily basis. Most people do not consider the impact that this has on nurses, as the societal perception is that they are there to help people – not to be affected by it.

PTSD may involve a number of symptoms, including: flashbacks, nightmares, triggers throughout the day that can affect one’s ability to concentrate, irritability or anger, sadness, anxiety, shakiness, paranoia, and more. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Critical Care sought to explore the factors that affected critical care nurses’ PTSD recovery. A total of 3500 critical care nurses were analyzed, and the following results were found:

  • Nurses who were in any type of intensive care unit other than the medical unit, and scored high on resiliency were 18-50% less likely to develop symptoms of PTSD
  • Nurses with a graduate degree in nursing were 18% more likely to develop PTSD than nurses with a bachelor’s degree

Why might these two factors have an impact? For one, intensive care units often assist in helping a patient recover and follow through with proper treatment procedures after receiving surgery; nurses in medical units may see more visually repulsive ailments prior to being treated effectively. Nurses in graduate school may experience higher levels of stress than those who did not receive graduate degrees, which could place this nurse population at higher stress levels which could increase their chances of developing PTSD.

Although nurses help others, it’s important that they help themselves, too. PTSD can have a significant impact not only on workplace productivity but also on personal happiness – placing a huge dent in one’s quality of life. Between medication, psychotherapy, and holistic activities such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture and more, a healthcare professional is much more prepared to heal and develop tools to better help them move forward.

Learning to be is part of the process of trauma recovery. Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).