Mental Health Nursing & Treating Depression

Written by noreen wainwright
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Mental Health Nursing & Treating Depression
Low mood is characteristic of depression. (distress trouble image by Andrey Kiselev from

Mental health nurses deal regularly with people who are suffering from depression. The mental health's nurse's relationship with the patient can be key to successful treatment and recovery. Mental health nurses are trained to assess a patient's mental state and develop a care plan setting goals and interventions. The nurse reviews this on a regular basis with the patient and other professionals. The mental health nurse is a member of a multidisciplinary team, and is often the person with the most contact with the patient


Depression is a potentially serious condition which takes many forms. Depression was recognised even in ancient times, and the treatments were varied and sometimes extreme. We now classify different types of depression, and therefore can often treat it more effectively. Celebrities now openly describe their depressive illness, making it a little easier for a patient to present at the general practitioner's surgery. This is commonly the primary source of help.

Types of Depression

Depression can be associated with a range of other disorders, commonly anxiety. Some people suffer depression as part of a bi-polar disorder, a condition which used to be called manic-depression. Some patients with depression have an addiction problem. People sometimes experience a depressive episode as a reaction to certain stress factors in their lives. In other cases the causes are unknown. New mothers sometimes experience post-natal depression. A depressive episode may be fairly quickly treated, or the patient may suffer from a chronic or recurrent depression.

Importance of Treatment

It is important to treat the depression quickly, as a small but significant number of people with depression do have suicidal thoughts. The mental health nurse will interview the patient, and this will form part of the assessment. Many patients with depression are treated initially with medication, as it is a priority to lift the mood. Sometimes, the person will be treated at home, though in some cases, the person will be admitted to a hospital.

The Mental Health Nurse's Role

Some mental health nurses work in the community and some in the more acute hospital setting. A hospital-based psychiatric nurse admits the patient and ideally remains the key worker for that patient. Depressed patients usually benefit from continuity, and the mental health nurse's good interpersonal skills will enable her to build a therapeutic relationship, based on trust with the patient. The patient should feel safe in the presence of the nurse.

Helping in Recovery

The depressed person's needs will change as treatment progresses. The mental health nurse's role should adapt to this change. At the earliest stage the nurse's main role may to be ensure the patient is eating, sleeping and taking his medication. The nurse will observe the patient's progress, and will be aware that as the patient's mood begins to lift, the reality of the situation may may make her even vulnerable for a while. The mental health nurse's training helps him to develop keen observational skills

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