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How to Handle Mental Health Patients

How to Handle Mental Health Patients

Terri Polick | NursingLink

About Clinical Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems people face, and a condition any nurse should be familiar with. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is the most common mental disorder, and the CDC reports that one in 30 Americans meet the criteria for major depression. It’s also been estimated that 80% of depressed people do not seek treatment, making it even more important that nurses be on the alert for signs of depression in patients.

It’s normal for anyone to feel down when they are sick, but physical illnesses can trigger depressive episodes in patients with a history of clinical depression. The signs and symptoms of depression are varied, but can include persistent physical symptoms such as stomachaches, indigestion, constant headaches, and difficulty breathing.

These patients commonly ask for medications that are ineffective. Watch for changes in behavior and be alarmed if a distraught, depressed patient suddenly looks serene. The patient’s tranquility could be signaling that they have decided to take their own life. Many nurses tell me that they are afraid of saying the wrong thing around suicidal patients but my advice is to listen your gut. The only thing you can do wrong is not ask your patient pointblank if they are suicidal.

Another challenge nurses face when dealing with mental health patients, is caring for people who are suffering from hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Nothing is more unsettling than walking into a patient’s room and seeing them respond to internal stimuli. Their eyes track in empty space, they have inappropriate laughter, and they talk to whoever or whatever they are seeing. Auditory hallucinations are even trickier. Voices can be benign, or they could be telling your patient to hurt themselves or others.

Don’t be afraid to ask your patient what’s going on, and then report your findings to the physician. Medications frequently need to be readjusted, especially if your patient is under stress. Giving good nursing care to mental health patients depends on your powers of observation as well as your other nursing skills.

Next: Psychiatric Nurse Practioner >>

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    mk2013

    9 months ago

    1156 comments

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    trailers

    over 2 years ago

    4 comments

    although i have watch many movies like i am watching all the movies listed at movie trailers, i usually skip the psychiatric movies about ones like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because i believe many of them are not good thinking style of the human brain however thank you for your article about this

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    msaiwn

    almost 3 years ago

    8 comments

    Nurses with experience in the mental health field are very valuable in drug rehab centers.A nurse should seek to engage with the person in care in a positive and collaborative way that will empower the patient to draw on his or her inner resources in addition to any other treatment they may be receiving.It's a very demanding job and I have all the respect for them.My brother was in a drug rehab Washington center and then I saw how a nurse makes the patient feel.He and the medical staff had a very good relationship.I am grateful that there still are persons that care and don't judge.I'm thankful that my brother got a second chance.

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    afterwop

    almost 3 years ago

    58 comments

    Handling mental health patients is a delicate issue, and I think that emotion and empathy are essentiel. These will affect a nurse's work, also one's nursing skills and mindset are of capital importance. I find it encouraging that hospitals today offer holistic drug treatment as well as alternative therapies. That's why nurses should strive to learn as many new healing skills as possible, from kinesiotherapy to psychology.

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    JoeKeller

    almost 3 years ago

    52 comments

    One of my friends that works for California drug rehab has experience with mental health patients. He says that such patients are very demanding and you need to be psychologically fit to deal with them. Another thing you need to know is that working with mental health patients also requires longer holidays:))

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    NeilKirchoff

    almost 3 years ago

    10 comments

    I too am a psychiatric nurse and the same as you I didn't want to have anything to do with it because of that movie. In my first year of college I was never sober(come on who heard of a sober college student in his first year?) and I didn't pay any attention to friends or family. In my second year of college a good friend developed a strange psychiatric disease and that is what started my interest for this domain.

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    EvePerro

    about 3 years ago

    6 comments

    Oh, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, my favorite movie! It inspired me a lot since I was little. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I worked at drug rehab Florida and it was not a piece of cake. I am not comparing the addicts with people with mental problems, but I guess that it is pretty much the same job.

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