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Return to Work After Major Depressive Episode?

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Q. My Life had been out of control for months. I had been having high pain levels, with high stress and anxiety. I thought I was burnt out in my present bedside nursing position on a busy cardiac unit. Believing I was burnt out I applied for and received a job in scheduling. This position is a good job but wrong for me. I’m not a good typest, I don’t like using the phone and I am just adequate on the computer, so having to do all at the same time gets a bit overwhelming. Shortly after starting the job I broke down with crying all the time. Went to the ED and they said I was depressed and started me on Zoloft 50 mg. Four worsening days later I was suicidal and was admitted into a psych hospital for 5 days. Since this all happened in May I have been on disability and have tried 3 different drugs: Zoloft, Pristiq and Cymbalta. Zoloft didn’t offer remission of depression at 200 mg daily and caused terrible headaches. Pristiq made my insomnia much worse as well as my restless legs and made me feel more dead inside. Cymbalta is working well into the third week.

The problem is that my issue is work and all the pain, stress, and anxiety I feel when doing it. This was my bedside nursing job. The other job I took to get away from the pain, stress, and anxiety just isn’t for me. So now, I just don’t know what to do. I just can’t make the decision to return to that job. Bedside nursing is out for me now as I can’t mentally or physically handle it. The new job I just don’t like. The basic question is should I go back to this job or take a leave of absence until something else opens up that I like better. I can’t just quit as I carry our benefits. What it comes down to is that I just don’t feel ready to go back to work. I know in the past I have worked feeling worse than I feel right not but that probably helped push me into this depression. I would just love to stay off through the holidays, be able to enjoy them, to really have time to relax before I make the decision to get back to work. I feel I should just go back to work but that isn’t what I want to do. I have worked 40 years with 25 of them as am RN and maybe I just wore out.

I’m hoping by taking the time I feel I need I will then be able to make the decision to return to work. Or am I just kidding myself. Looking at the economy I do need to return to work at some point but we could weather 6 months with me being off. What should I do?? I’ll feel selfish if I stay off for 6 months but that is what I would like to do…

Return to Work After Major Depressive Episode?

Answered by on -


It’s good that you are in treatment but the problem is that you are only pursuing medication. The question you wrote about had to do with what type of job you would be best suited for at this juncture in time and whether you should return to your career of 25 years or try another profession. These are major life decisions that require more than medication to aid you in your decision-making process. What brought on your depression? Why are you in pain? Why are you experiencing high stress and anxiety? Why are you burned out? Is there a career that you are better suited for? If so, what would that be and how do you pursue it? Medication alone cannot help you answer these very important questions.

Therapy could be tremendously helpful to you. A good therapist could help you analyze whether or not remaining as an RN is wise for you at this time or what job might be better suited you. He or she can help you analyze whether returning to work is wise as well as help you examine why you had a major depressive episode. Medication may be helpful in addition to therapy but by itself, it likely won’t be very effective (as it seems you may be finding out). You need a more comprehensive treatment approach and that is why you should consider therapy. Thanks for writing.

Return to Work After Major Depressive Episode?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Return to Work After Major Depressive Episode?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.