Maintaining Your Mental Health After Surgery Can Be Difficult

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Maintaining Your Mental Health After Surgery Can Be Difficult

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Don't go it alone.

A surgical procedure is a stressful situation in and of itself. You are literally putting your life in someone else’s hands. That’s no small feat for most people. There’s a level of trust that we just don’t give to many people, especially virtual strangers. But for many, that initial, stressful decision to trust their surgeons is only the first of many tests of their mental state.

Many people experience some level of mental distress in the days and weeks following their surgery. Their lives have been turned upside down and that comes with its own unique set of problems such as anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.

Here are some of the more common mental issues people face post-surgery and their treatments.

Situational Depression

We’ve discussed this one briefly already. Situation Depression is involved the relinquishing of control that comes with having a surgical procedure. This can make underlying mental health issues worse.

  • Prepare yourself for the reality of surgery beforehand.
  • Let your doctor and team know about any mental health issues your face.
  • Let your family and friends take over the tasks that really worry you. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

Body Image Issues

Many people, young people especially, have issues with potential scarring. This can cause anxiety and undue stress, as well as depression.

  • Stop thinking of the scar as a blemish. Instead, think of it as a mark of triumph.
  • Talk with other people that have dealt with the same situation.
  • Educate yourself on ways to minimize your scars. This can help you to lower your stress level because you have a plan in place to minimize scarring.

Feelings of Isolation

Your friends and family will try to visit you after your surgery, but the visits will not be the same. You’ll be laid up and they will be overly concerned about your health. Sometimes the visits will taper off – especially if your recovery is an extended one. So, you might experience feelings of disconnection and isolation.

  • Use the phone, email and text messaged to stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Netflix is always a good choice.
  • Journal or write handwritten thank you notes to the people that support you.

Lack of Familiar Coping Skills

We all have ways to cope with stress whether that be going for a run, a long bath or sex. These familiar coping strategies may not be available to you after surgery.

  • Realize this is just a temporary imposition.
  • Find other ways to cope that are not inhibited by your current state. Maybe you’ve wanted to catch up on your reading for years. This could be your chance.

Difficulty Getting Around

Most people find they have some difficulty getting around after surgery. This can cause feelings of helplessness and frustration.

  • Realize it’s only temporary.
  • Utilize physical and occupational therapy services to get you “back on your feet” as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Trouble Sleeping

Many people have trouble maintaining a normal sleep schedule after surgery. You’re on medications that might make it difficult to sleep, plus your laying around all day. This can increase anxiety levels.

  • Try to force yourself into a normal sleep schedule as soon as possible. Your body needs it.
  • Stay in touch with your primary care physician if the problem persists.
  • Make judicious use of sleep medications in the short term.

Poor Nutrition

Some surgeries require you to change your eating habits which can cause nutritional deficiencies in the short term. Your brain needs those nutrients to function properly.

  • Find your favorite foods that meet your nutritional guidelines and enjoy them.
  • Take supplements, but make sure to ask your doctor first.
  • Consult with a nutritionist that can help you make a diet plan you can stick with.

If there was a way to eliminate the stress and trauma of a surgical procedure, we would certainly offer it; however, there’s no way to eliminate it completely. The above tips will help, but there is no substitute for staying in touch with your doctor, therapy team and family and friends. At this point in your life, you need assistance. At MSA, we are always there to help our patients before, during and after a surgical procedure, and you mental and physical health is of the utmost importance to us. If you are considering a surgical procedure, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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