Surgery, Depression, And Anxiety

For most people here comes that time in life when it is necessary to face surgery.  The need for surgery may vary according to the seriousness of the diagnosis. A more serious diagnosis brings with it a more severe emotional reaction.  For example, is common for people facing heart surgery, to feel extremely anxious and depressed about the outcome.  The same is true for an individual who is facing surgery for the removal of a cancerous tumor. This is where mind and body very much come together.  Medical procedures are not separate and apart from issues of mental and emotional health.  We know that people with diabetes often feel depressed.

Very recently, I faced the need for surgery on my left shoulder, because I suffered a rotator cuff injury.  While the diagnosis was not a serious, as one that is life-threatening, I nevertheless experienced a lot of anxiety leading up to the operation.

What were the reasons for my anxiety?  I knew that this was not a life endangering procedure.  I had full confidence in my surgeon.  I saw my MRI pictures and clearly viewed the injury.  I also had a lot of pain and reduction in motion of my left arm and shoulder as a result of the injury.  Therefore, I was very confident in the fact that I needed arthroscopic surgery for this problem.

I let my feelings be known to my family and closest friends.  Working in mental health all of these years.  I knew it would be better for me to talk about my feelings rather than suppress them.  Each time I brought this up with my wife, adult children, and very good friends, I was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction with their sincere responses.  These are people I know and trust.  All of them assured me that I would get through the surgery and be fine.  So why was I bothered by this response?

I came to realize that it wasn't worried about getting through the surgery, and I wasn't worried about whether or not the procedure would be successful.  Instead, I came to understand that it was the anticipation of the pain after surgery was all for that I was distraught about.  This was especially true because I was told that I would need 6 to 8 weeks of physical therapy in order to regain full functioning in my arm.

A lot of this became clearer to me after the surgery was over, and I met with my physical therapist.  Things crystallized in my head when I asked him if it would hurt?  Is immediate answer was direct and to the point, yes.  It was going to hurt.  Rather than feel alarmed or upset by his answer I actually felt relieved.  I did not like either from him that I would be okay.  Instead, I wanted the honest answer that he provided me with.

What you can learn from my experience:

1. If you need surgery your doctor with great care.  It is important that you have full confidence in him or hire.

2. Learn all you can about your illness.  Knowledge is power, and the more you know ahead of time, the more in control, you will feel.

3. Ask your doctor lots of questions about what to expect  prior to, during and after the surgery.

4. Be open and honest about your feelings.  At the very same time, do not expect too much of other people.  Loving and caring people will do the best they can to understand you and help you.  However, there was just so much they can do.

5. Accept the fact that anxiety about surgery is normal.  If you believe that you are getting panicky about surgery consult a psychologist to help you reduce either anxious or depressed symptoms.

6. It is also a very common for people to experience depression and anxiety after surgery is over.  If you stop and think about it that is not surprising. Surgery is an intrusion into a person's body.  The very process of surgery requires that an individual passively submit to the procedure.  That temporary need for passivity is what causes depression.  No one likes to feel helpless.  In addition, remember that surgical procedures are traumatizing in nature.  Trauma brings about all kinds of stress and emotional reactions.

7. If necessary, seek psychotherapy is feelings of anxiety and depression processed long weeks after recovery.

What are your experiences with surgery?  How have you responded to loved ones and friends when they have faced surgery?

Your comments and questions are strongly encouraged.

Allan and Schwartz, PhD

Comments
  • lt

    I just had my 6th surgery in 3 years, 8 surgeries in my life. i am 51 years old and feel more anxious and depressed after each surgery even though they are not life threatening surgeries. I have had a knee surgery which ended up with a scary blood clot, then back surgery, then nose surgery, then I fell and broke 3 bones in my ankle and dislocated it and rippedl ligaments which resullted in an ambulance ride and emergency surgery..since then i have had 2 more surgeries on this ankle to remove hardware...Long story short, I have also developped real anxiety about my family and now have panic attacks, etc...I almost like it when I am at the hospital and they take care of me and I am drugged and have some time of not having to worry about my family..How sick is that??? The doctors have been playing with different meds but that has been a mess and I am now awake all night... I hate this and want to go back to the hospital and have them put me under so I can't worry and think.. Is this normal after having so many surgeries or am I really going nuts???

  • Anonymous-1

    Just had knee replacement surgery 7 weeks ago and am still having days when i cry for nothing and feel very anxious. THe knee replacement therapy has been going well ahead of schedule as far as recovery, so why am I still sooo moody. It actually helps to know others are experiencing similar feelings. Hope you do well and know you are not alone

  • Anonymous-2

    I have had to have several surgeries, from more serious and invasive, to not so much. I do seem to go through a down time of energy and emotions afterward, and have other physical issues, like blurry eyes, ringing ears, low energy, insomnia. Our bodies know everything that happened to them, and so do our subconscious minds.

    It all passes eventually, but if I have another surgery coming, I get very unhappy about how I know I will feel for a while afterward.

  • Eric Rodgers

    As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety i have gone through hell and am still doing so.After my abdominal sergery three weeks ago, a rather large operation requiring nearly a hundred staples and god knows how many stitches, iv suffered nothing but terrible depression with evenings filled with anxiety. i spend hours in bed in tears trying to figure out Why i am feeling this way and the rest of the time wondering am i going to have a heart attack as a result of all the drugs and pain killers going through my system, i am awaiting a procedure (abolation) on my heart in the next three months and this is adding to my anxiety and depression, not only this but im angery that i was not warned of these side effects, no energy is also one of the worst feelings, i try to walk but my legs are like jelly, i fell like im going to faint or colapse, how ever i am feeling some what reasurred after reading that im not the only person going through this. still for those that are going to have surgery my heart goes out to you, weather or not its a serious operation or not,. wishing anyone who reads this thats going to have a stint in hospital or just a small procedure all the best and a speedy recovery.

  • Anonymous-3

    Just came from my third doctor... had hysterectomy Nov 5th, thrush for a month afterwards, then I was nauseated, had a horrid taste in my mouth, no appetite, pains in back and chest, so we did gall bladder testing but it is all in my head. Surgeon said take this anxiety medicine, you are not crazy. Wow, I am glad I am not alone. This to will pass. I have been hyperventilating lately if I get upset, so there is probably some truth to the anxiety. I have been eating almost zero fat since before Christmas to prevent what I though was a gall bladder attack.... but must be anxiety.

  • Rick

    I can relate to everyone's comments on this board. I just underwent a surgery for total foot and lower leg reconstruction. Before the surgery I was a slightly depressed and anxious individual. For these last 6 weeks I have been in the deepest, darkest hole of depression and anxiety that I cannot even express with words. I cannot sleep. I tell some people close to me but they given standard lines that I will be able to walk again soon. It doesn't make me feel better and I talk even less. I just want to and often cry and don't even want to see the next day. It's not about walking. It's an incredible feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and a lack will to press ahead. This all happened after my surgery. I feel lonely and alone in a physical sense and alone in my thoughts as though there is nobody in the world who knows what I am feeling. I don't know how to save myself from this. But if you are reading this, please at least know you are not alone.

  • Anna

    I feel so much happier having read your article and the responces from other patients as well. I had a knee surgery and prior to the operation experienced high levels of anxiety. After the surgery I was initially very positive and optimistic as I was making good recovery.

    However upon my (somewhat prematurely forced) return to work to an unsympathetic boss quickly saw my optimism evaporate and my recovery became a struggle to survive from day to day.

    Small things seem to have become insummountable and trying to pick up the threads of life and begin to untangle them seems like a mammoth task. It was therefore valueable to see that my feelings are shared by other people and perhaps my sister-in-laws advice of treating recovery like eating an elephant (" How do you eat an Elephant? one spoonful at a time") will help to see the light at then end of the tunnel.

  • fred

    I had rotater Cuff surgery sept. 28. i dreaded the thought of having it and went overboard on tryng topick a surgeon, " in a panic". the sugery went well, the confinement and no sleep was horrid. i live alone so i walked when i could feeling like a caged animal. Four weeks into the recovery i started feeling panic and anxious with no sleep. a total Hell. Week five i went to the emergency room thinking i was about to die. they called it anxiety! Three days later again to the ER i did not feel like being alive and was ready to give up. now i have a better doctor a psyciotrist a counsler and all say itis just anxiety. GREAT , now they all say it is anxiety,

    without meds i want to die, i am thinking of putting my self in the hospital. not sure what good that would do, but i am desperate. my girl friend and family cannot really help. i do not want to die but now i think if i do i just do so what.

  • Anonymous-4

    I had kidney surgery in August 2011 to remove a small cancer. While the procedure went well the recovery has unexpectedly included considerable anxiety, sleep problems and minor depression. This was my first major surgery and I have come to understand that anxiety and depression are just part of the deal although nobody tells you about that part. Fortunately, I have sought counseling and that has been very helpful. I have also found that interaction with others who have had undergone major surgery is even more helpful than counseling. Recovery really has tested my patience but I am almost there and continue to maintain a positive attitude.

  • Fred

    I can not believe the comments after i wrote Nov. 28. I am better now and feel like being alive again. i had doctors give me cocktails of drugs just to experiment and dang near killed me. Some docs do not care what they put you through. I found a good psycatrist that believes in minimum drugs. i hate the side effects, but it is better than chest killing panic attacts and depression. i have changed my life style for i know my old ways of worry contributed to my problems. Only you can help yourself and you are worth it. Life is a gift and you were meant to enjoy it. God be with all of you.

  • McCoy

    after heart and hemorroid surgery, 6 weeks apart, I've been so sad, cry a lot. Why? Did something supernatural happen while I was under or what? I take anti-anxiety and anti- depressive meds among others but still wish I had never ever been born! What can I do?

  • Anonymous-5

    Hi McCoy,

    You are severly depressed and anxious because your body has been assaulted. Of course, it was necessary to save your life. What your body knows, your head does not because all your head knows is, "What Trauma!"

    Your situation expresses one of the problems we in mental health deal with. The problem is that, even today when we know so much more about mental health, some doctors prescribe anti depressants but do not send people for counseling. I know that, post heart surgery, many hospitals provide support groups for heart patients while in the hospital and post surgery. That goes along with anti depressants. There is nothing wrong with medication but, it's only part of the solution. People need the group therapy both in the hospital and after discharge. My suggestion is that you find a support group for heart patients that meets after discharge.

    Hang in there. What you are experiencing is awful but, believe it or not, is normal. Also, it will pass but a support group would greatly help.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Chantal De Barra

    Hello all,

    I am three weeks after the identical surgery to Dr Schwarz to my left shoulder. I cannot tell you the relief I feel after just having read his article and all the comments. I had no idea depression was a possibility after surgery and learning this is normal is giving me a huge sense of relief. I live alone and so am spending a lot of time at home but although I had planned to do lots of things during the recovery period and my time off work, I find myself in a state of total lethargy. All I want to do is sit around and do nothing except watch TV series. Sorting out the post-op paperwork or do the shoppoing seem like monumental tasks to me that I just can't bring myself to do. Also I didn't know the physio was painful so thank you for letting me know that. Right now it doesn't feel good to know but forewarned is forearmed and is almost reassuring.

    It is good to know that this will pass and to understand better what it is and why it's happening.

  • Anonymous-6

    It has been just over two weeks since my right rotator cuff surgery. I have an excellent Dr & realize I could not continue to do my duties as a flight attendant without the surgery. I have had my first week of therapy & am shocked at the overwhelming depression I am feeling. I live alone & also have an elderly mother a few miles away who had hip replacement recently. The added pressure of trying to help her is,at times more than I can bear. Since I als can not exercise or play my guitar to relieve stress, I have no outlet.I feel hopeless thinking about the long recovery ahead & worry I might strain amuscle & mess things up. I feel like crying alot. It helped me to read that this is a normal response. Than you.

  • Dawn

    After posting a comment during the wee hours today, I thought i felt better. Now i feel even better & realize why! Now that I have slept & had time for Dr Scwartzs' info to settle in my mind, it allmakes more sense. i recall how my massage training gave info on how people may have intense reactions during massage due to trauma & scar tissue. The body remembers & when touched may recall the event. Since surgery is trauma, I now realize that I have to heal mentally as well as physically. My rotator surgery was more involved than most so I know it will take alot to get back to my athletic self. I feel I am better prepared to deal with it now. I am even handling the fact that my former Dr boyfriend stopped contacting me prior to my surgery! I think Dr Schwartzs' info should be standard post op. Thank you Dr Schwartz

  • Anonymous-7

    I am also going through anxiety and depression following my colon resection surgery. All I want to do is cry and I believe I should share my feelings with my doctor and family. Dealing with this horrible feeling should not be handled alone. Hopefully it will pass with time.

  • Mt

    After reading all these testimonies, it seems like a good idea for the Medical profession to offer counseling and support groups for post surgery. It is clearly a missing ingredient to the full recovery of the patient.

  • Wife of patient

    My husband had a very long wait before bilateral knee surgery and was suffering the entire time. Now as he recovers, the suffering seems to be even worse. I am incredibly concerned and he is incredibly angry. I continue to hold my tongue as he refuses to admit anything is wrong. When I attempt to bring it up, the anger becomes rage. A call to the doctor is an order tomorrow.

  • Anonymous-8

    I went through a total knee replacement on February 28, 2013. I too had the anxiety and stress both from the surgery and the fact that I really don't have a support system. Of course I have bothers and sisters - but like everyone else on this site you hear the same story - just think you are going to be great, and not have that pain anymore. ( it would have been nice if they gave you a surgery buddy that has gone through the same operation, who you could call with questions).

    My concern here is after care for the pain medication you were given, and then weaned off of. What I discovered myself was that some of us have problems after being weaned off the medication. I took my last low dose pain pill on Monday, and now I'm going through withdrawl symptoms- as if I were a junkie getting off drugs. When asked- I was informed that this is common in some patients and will take several days to disappear. Always nice to know by surprise.

  • Nina Glueckselig

    I had transphenoidal surgery to remove a pituitary tumor 11 days ago. Prior to the diagnosis I suffered with severe unrelenting headaches. Since the surgery my mood has been very lability- extremely tearful and incredibly anxious. I am so exhausted and feel I should be doing more. I am used to be a very active person and fear I will never get better and back to a normal life. I don't want to give in and stay in bed. Can't seem to achieve balance between rest and activity. Very hard on myself. My whole body feels on edge and sore. I went through so much before the surgery and it still isn't over.

  • sandy

    This was good for me to read. I just recently had a disckectomy/Laminectomy on my lumbar in my back. I went in on May first and had my first surgery and almost two weeks later I reherniated my disk. I was then taken in for an emergency second surgery to fix the disk once again. I have been having terriable panic attacks and depression. I had bad reactions to all the pain meds (they made me nauseated and sometimes sick) Well I now have been having terriable panic attcaks and terriable depression. I went to the doctor on Thursday and they gave me Kolonopin for my anxiety and Lexapro for my depression and anxiety. The Kolonipin is working for the moment and they dont want me to take the lexapro until I am eating better because I have lost 15lbs from not eating the past three weeks. I am trying to self talk and tell myself that this will pass but it is so hard to believe it while I am in it. Also, it is so hard to start feeling normal again when you cant leave the house or ride in a car for two weeks. So I am hoping that in the next week after my first two weeks of recovery is done I will feel better. The first two weeks I have to be really careful and I feel cofined to my house for the most part and it is really hard. I am now off all of my pain pills (percocet) and I hope that will help me to start feeling better. I took my last dose two days ago and I really think those pills had a lot to do with all of this. I hated how they made me feel. Well I would love to hear from someone if they have any words of encouragement or advice. thanks Sandy

  • Anonymous-9

    I'm 25 and just had knee surgery on my femur for osteochondritis dissecans about a month ago. I've been feeling tons of anxiety and depression since the surgery, and felt incrediby anxious before the surgery, too. I'm crying all the time and then I feel guilty for crying. It is difficult to go from being so active to sitting around all the time. I'm thinking of going to a therapist about it all.

    It's comforting to know there are more people who feel this way, because everyone (although they mean well) keeps saying "Oh well at least the surgery is over! You'll be back to normal in no time!" and it doesn't really help to hear that for whatever reason. I've been totally depending on my other leg too while my left one is in a brace, and today my good leg started to get sharp pains in my knee causing more bouts of horrendous anxiety. I just don't want to go through all of this again. I also have had a really gross taste in my mouth since surgery, and nobody seems to know what from, and I didn't like how the pain meds made me feel so I stopped them as soon as I could.

  • Natalie

    People need to be made aware of the emotional side of surgery. We all need to speak up to let our surgeons know what is happening for us and suggest we are warned about this. I am day 8 after rotator cuff/acromioplasty surgery and am crying on and off every day. I feel so helpless, frustrated and restricted. I have excellent care from my husband and physically, am recovering well. Its just an emotional rollercoaster. I know this will pass, i just think having warning and knowing its normal and common helps a lot.

  • Roseanne

    I am so glad to see I am not the only one in this boat.I had foot urgery 3 days ago and for the last week have also had crippling back pain and now I am crying on and off thru the day, feel sad, depressed, my blood feels like its boiling in my veins and then when i finally get to sleep I wake up in a pool of sweat.The feeling of dread I have are terrible n I think all these bad things are going to happen to my daughter n now she is growing up she will not need me anymore (we are extremely close) and I feel alone as my partner lives 1 hour away and has his own life to deal with even though he is extremely helpful and says he understands I don't think he does....how could he he has never n been thu depression. We have just moved back to my mums and she is elderly and very unwell so that's also depressing me as there are 7 other siblings but on 1 or 2 do anything and it all falls back on me or my sister.I have a history of depression and had severe post natal 12 years ago n then list my dear nephew tragically 8 months ago so I am on Zoloft and also parlodel as my prolactin levels shot up to 800 after my nephews death which sparked the depression again and then those boiling blood sensations crept in, like things were crawling under my scalp and skin and then the feelings of panic n dread add to the mix in its horrible and I would not wish it on anyone.I have no real appetite, have stopped coffee, stopped the pain killers ( I take paracetamol instead)take have started taking vit D3, vit B high potency and evening primrose oil caps again just to help me a little.I have increased my Zoloft from 50mg to 75mg as I did when my nephew passed away until I got back under control And reading other peoples experiences are helping me also.

    Depression is crippling as it is but to not be warned of the effects if anaesthesia etc on the body, mind and emotions post surgery is just soooo wrong.

    We need to raise awareness as it is so common.

    Hope this is helping someone else thru their problems.....UR NOT ALONE!!!

    HANG IN THERE IT WILL GET BETTER BUT IT JUST TAKES TIME...

  • Lynda

    I had colon rescetion surgery due to frequent diverticuitis attacks 4/08. Going in to surgery I was terrified. Two previous surgeries were horrific to me as post -op pain was not managed and I was afraid history would repeat itself. Well, it did. The nurse forgot to plug in the pain pump the second night after surgery and I spent 14 hrs in excrutiating pain and nauesa. The Dr. noticed it when he came in the next AM.

    After finishing pain meds and prescribed ativan approx 20 days after surgery, I fell apart. Shakes, a feeling like adrenaline was speeding thru my entire body 24/7, vomiting, light headed, crying, sweats, palpitations, muscle and stomach cramps, flushed face and could not sleep.

    My surgeon and GP said I was in withdrawal from the meds and put me in the hopsital psyc ward for 3 drugged up agonizing days with a script to see a psch in one month. The hopsital psyc said she did not think this was withdrawal. After the drugs wore off, I was back in the same condition as above. (my dr. never came to see me in the hospital)

    I made an appt with a new GP and he did not know what to do with me and prescribed Ativan. He said

  • Paulette

    I am so thankful to have found this blog/forum. it has been a blessing to know that there are so many others out there that have or are experiencing what I am. I am 8 days post hysterectomy (was able to keep my ovaries) due to pre cervical cancer cells. I just turned 40. I was doing ok and healing but then got a tummy bug 5 days after surgery. I cant believe there could even be such cruelty in the universe for this to happen to anyone. My whole world has fallen apart. Im crying off/on all day, every day. dread, panic attacks, let alone feeling awful from the virus and my body is screaming for it to stop. I can't eat, I'm afraid to sleep-I wake up in freezing cold sweat and the panic is there waiting for a new day. I already take efexor and got Xanax prior to surgery in case I did start with panic after surgery. It is not the pain from surgery that has bothered me. Its the complete disruption of "normal". Im not a good patient. I can't sit around all day Anyway, thank you so much for this forum, it has helped me tremendously

  • Karen

    I had to wait six weeks knowing I had a large mass in me. Surgery was finally done and they removed 11 pound tumor and also found another two pound in stomach. Woke briefly in recovery ended back up in surgery because artery burst in abdomen. They also did a whole hysterectomy since I was hemoraging. Needless to say I spent 5 days in ICU no food or liquids, no movement, and worrying about family etc. Healing has been hard I feel good physicaly now however I wake at night full of anxiety and worry. I try to listen to music and tell myself every day I wil get better I have loving family and they help me. I quit all the pain meds and just take vitamins and walk treadmil. I believe the anxiety is a body reaction to our own self control. I also believe the meds and intrusion of our body is related. Bless you all it does get better eat high protien, read good books, make sure you talk to others, and know it will pass.

  • carol

    yes is a person has a mental disorder ave of the life and then thay have open heart surgury what medicine can a person that that won't have effects on the heart we have take to so meny doctor and the person that is still having problem with the pill that he is taking they effect his heart what kind of feed back can you give us

  • Maggie Rios

    I'm a little relieved to know what I'm experiencing is not out of the ordinary. I don't understand this feeling. I had a drainage and removal of an abscess on April 17. It was a 15 minute surgery and I felt fine afterwards. The abscess came back and I was diagnosed with hidradenitis and had another surgery on May 28 to remove all of my infected tissue what the doctor thought was going to be a 20 minutes surgery turned out to be an hour and a half I have never put been put under anesthesia that long. Day three post surgery I started feeling very anxious day for was worth worse now we are day nine and I feel terrible I feel like I am trapped inside my body. I feel very anxious and I feel like I have an adrenaline 24/7 I feel like my heart is racing hundred miles an hour I feel like I can't even enjoy my family my husband or my son. I feel like I can't think straight. I feel like there are so many things running through my mind that are not normal What do I do? Will this end? I feel like I do not want to be alive right now I feel like I would be better off if I felt nothing. Please help!

  • Anonymous-10

    I live in Canada in Ontario actually where we have OHIP which covers the costs so staying in a hospital is not a financial concern but the Subtotal Petrosectomy I had a week ago and the lack of direction I've had from my surgeon since he sent me home has been a cause of what I am coming to believe to be Post Surgical Depression. Im furious with the doctor for sending me home the day after surgery with staples in my head and another large incision in my abdomen. Then he has the nerve to want me to come to Richmond Hill from North York for post op care when he does this in a clinic in one of the best hospitals in Toronto Toronto General. This is what made me realize I am depressed. I allowed him to do a procedure after promises of not going home too soon, lots of follow up, etc, and having no family (my husband died 7 years ago) to rely on, daring to have the nerve to demand I get my friend who is a faithful driver for me in extreme situations be the one to bring me to Richmond Hill or waiting until July 29 for a follow up appointment at Toronto General.

    I realize similar to grieving I have anger, frustration, no energy, no appetite and am Diabetic.. The Diabetes itself was one of the reasons my surgeon was promising to monitor me in hospital for several days before sending me home. I'm angry all right but fed up also. I've had now over 65 surgeries and my body is tired.

  • Amanda7817

    I had proneal tendon fusion surgery in April After my ankle surgery I have been on an emotional rollercoster. I have times where I am great and other times I am either in tears rocking on my bed in a ball in pain or wanting to crawl out of my skin. I am soo glad to hear that I am not alone and going crazy. I do feel like I have a great deal of cabin fever as I have not been able to drive in 12 weeks and depend on other family members to drive me to the hospital, dr appointments and physiotherapy Not to mention to the grocery store. I am starting to feel like a burden and just want to drive again. Is there anything that anyone takes for the anxiety symptoms that you can get over the counter? Any pointers to keep calm that others do?

  • Linda

    I am 9 months bilateral knee replacement surgery and I am still dealing with anxiety, specifically nausea and shakiness. Like so many others I believe I should have been warned of this possible side effect of surgery. At first I thought I had the flu. It took 6 months to realize my symptoms were caused by anxiety, not a stomach problem. I am trying my third anti- anxiety drug, and am seeing a therapist and will start with a group next week. Lorazepam really takes care of the symptoms but my doctors want me off of it because it is so addictive. I only take one tablet per day but sometimes it isn't enough and I feel lousy all day. I think I am beginning to get depressed because it has gone on so long.

  • cxtine

    Thank goodness I found this site. I feel like I'm not alone, as I'm sure that is the same for all of you. I had a hysterectomy on the 5th May, leaving my ovaries in. Recovery went really well and I was actually very pleased with how I was doing. Then, 4 weeks in, it started with having trouble falling asleep and then obsessing about it during the day which then became full blown anxiety. Sounds ridiculous to someone who has never been through that but for the person living it, it's a nightmare. It's now been about 5 weeks and i have been given delorazepam drops to help with the sleep. Seems to be helping and have even managed a few nights without taking the drops. But the anxiety during the day is still there, some days better than other but it seems like my mind won't switch off from it and I can't concentrate on anything else. How long more do I have to go through this?

  • Tina

    I am so relieved to know that I am not alone. I had my 3rd shoulder surgery last month which ended up being a lot more invasive than initially thought. I was in a sling for a month and totally helpless. I could not do simple tasks alone. I am a paramedic so I have been out of work since the surgery. I have been an emotional rollercoaster, I haven't been eating well most foods taste gross and I've been extremely anxious. I am off pain meds because I don't like them but still I am in more pain than before the surgery and physical therapy is a nightmare. I kept researching medical reasons for my decreased appetite and just feeling awful in general. I didn't realize most of this is emotional because of the chronic pain and loss of control of my life. I want to go back go work but I am scared. My surgeon told me that my other shoulder is starting to loose mobility and become weak. It is absolutely killing me that I don't know how much longer I will be able to continue doing my job that I love. I have a phenomenal support system who has been incredible patient with me and a top rated surgeon who works on the Boston Celtics players. However everyone is completely right no one ever talks to you about the emotional side effects of surgery.

  • Lynn Downs

    I have had trigeminal neuralgia for about 5 years. After a reoccurence of this about 6 months ago I have become extremely anxious and depressed. I have to have a brain surgery in October and I can't seem to come to terms with it. I feel overhelmed that I will be like this after too. Lynn

  • Ally

    Hi, my husband is due to have a hip replacement on August 29th, & I am so worried, I brust into tears for no reason, I know after the op he will be great, I've read loads of different comments from people who have had op, & they are all positive! My husband understandly can't wait for op, so he will be pain free, but i just can't help feeling like I do, is there any recommendations from anyone who has had op or family members as to what I can do, feeling pretty stupid! And also did your wife/husband take any time off work to help when you came out of hospital? One site I went on a couple of people said they had help for the first couple of weeks, any help or advice would be welcome! Here's hoping someone replies. Thank you for reading this, Ally

  • six weeks out

    Glad I found this site. I had a microdiscectomy approx six weeks ago. Physically I am progressing well. Still some slight numbness in my foot, but I am no longer in pain and gaining stregth back day by day. The bigger challenge has been the emotional side effects of going through my first surgical process. I probably went back to work too soon after the surgery - less than a week. The last couple of weeks I have been feeling mentally and physically drained. Just worn down. It's good to know that other have gone through similar feelings. I think the most important thing we can tell ourselves is that its alright to feel like this. The body has gone through trauma from both the pre-surgical pain and the post operative recovery. This takes a toll both mentally and physically. I continaully tell myself to give myself a break and let the healing go through its process. That sometimes helps....

  • Anonymous-11

    It is good to know you are not alone or crazy! I am 7 weeks post op rotator cuff repair with frozen shoulder manipulation also. I had so much anxiety prior to the surgery......fear of the pain, but also alot of anxiety about the recovery process & the activities & independence that i would have to give up! The recovery is a very long & restricted one! Managed to get the surgery done & was recovering pretty well when at just 2 weeks post op my husband (my sole caregiver) ruptured a disc in his neck. He was in terrible pain that ended up with him having surgery less then a week ago! Between the two of us dealing with pain, lack of sleep, therapy & doctor appointments we are just about nuts! I have therapy 3x/week & have had to start driving myself! I still have not reached the point where I can say I am glad I had it done. It has been a streeful time that is for sure!!

  • pam

    I am 10 days post op after having a total knee replacement and I am doing well as far as the surgery has gone.I have a lot of pain and cant sleep for more than 3 hrs at a time.I am awake most of the night and the pain is quite bad,I cant take morphine based drugs so am on anti-inflamatories and paracetamol.Its not so bad in the day but horrific at night.My problem is that even though I am delighted with how the surgery has been I cant stop crying,I have a very supportive husband but it feels like I am going mad,the feeling of isolation,worthlessness and being dependant on my family is awful.I dread each day and feel useless.I dont know if it is lack of sleep.pain or feeling so bad about myself but I wish I could be more positive.I am normally a outgoing happy person but that has all gone at the moment replaced by this very low mood.I am in tears writing this.I should be so grateful and happy but I not.

  • Anonymous-12

    Dear Can't Stop Crying ..I am having foot surgery in couple of weeks and have been wondering about post surgical depression. Thank you for sharing what you are going through, I am praying for you! Blessings!

  • Liz in NC

    I'm five weeks post-op and feel so sad, scared, uninterested in life and worse, guilty that I feel this way. My brain tumor was discovered during a CT scan following a mild concussion. I had a skilled doctor and loving family to nurse me. Getting "back to normal" feels anything but that. Ivery dealt with depression, but this feels so abnormal because factually I know how very fortunate I am to have received such good care. I'm thankful that this is a "normal" response to surgical intervention. I wish this had been mentioned by one of my care givers. I will certainly discuss this with my doctor. Thanks for the information.

  • Sandra

    One month out of total knee replacement...home help care therapist did not work...start this week with another group. My emotions are running rampant...crying, no appetite, and pain. For some short intervals I feel good...surgeon says I'm doing great physically...just have to get where I can straighten my leg and be pain-free. Hopefully, won't be anymore tears tonight!

  • Liz

    I suspected, being from the emergency side of the medical field, that what I was experiencing was not unheard of. I had a spinal fusion and and artificial disc placed 5 weeks ago. I knew it might be rough on me post surgically because I have always been very active. I was unprepared for how devastating the depression would be. I frequently feel completely useless because there is so little I can do. I feel like I am making no progress even though I know that is insane. The surgical group I chose is wonderful and addresses any pain issues promptly. I'm in less pain than before surgery. I will certainly bring up the depression at my visit next week. It is good to know it's not just me.

  • Anonymous-13

    I had a very serious knee surgery 8 months ago and the recovery is not going well. My surgeon told me yesterday that I need another one. Dealing with the first one was hard enough, but now to have a second one is even harder, beucase I know what to expect, and it was awful. Last time was na emergy surgery so I had no time to anticipate it, but now I have a full month to worry about it. It's affecting me in school, and its the only thing on my mind. on top of that, I live in constant pain everyday. I have so much stress from school and my knee put together. I dont konw what to do right now. Ive always had anxiety, and this just multiplies it time 100. If anyone has any advice, im all ears :)

  • Brittany

    Before my surgery I was sick with kidney stones for two months i was in constant pain. 3 weeks ago I had surgery to break up a kindey stone. Normally this wouldn't be as bad as you think, but they had to put the laser through my urethra to break it up. My doctor was supposed to remove the broken up parts of the stone so they could be tested he failed to do so, because he said it broke into very small parts and it would've taken him forever to take our all of the parts of the stone. I found this out after I woke up. I was very angery at him, but tried to be my polite self. He also put a stint inside of me to keep my urethra open. I had ot leave the stint in for one week. It was the worst week of my life. I was in constant pain, many trips to the ER and one hospital stay later. I finally got the stint out. It felt amazing. I was so excited. I went back to work the the next day. I've been so so so tired lately from being sick, some days i can barely make it through my shifts. About a week ago when i was in teh hospital over night I had this sadness overcome me sadness I haven't felt in a long time. Ever since then I have been crying, not just crying, but bawling my eyes out for no reason. I can't shake this sadness. I'm working, making money, I just got a new promotion at my job, but i'm still sad beyond believe. Some days I sob for hours and I don't know why. I take medication for depression and bipolar and has worked great for me for almost a year now. I know it's not my medicine. I haven't felt myself after suagery. How do you guys deal?

  • Anonymous-14

    I am coming up 6 months post ankle replacement, the joint replacement has been successful as I have gained as much ROM as pre surgery. It's the train wreck in my head, disturbed sleep, knotted stomach, feelings hopeless I am now coming to my 2nd visit with a female GP or MD in USA terms. I can't face going back to work, I have tried, I am the manager of our local medical centre & the thought scares me into another bout of tears. I am hoping with amother session or 3 with Dr Hardie I can get back to work after the new year.

    i have had prior surgery, veins, ankle arthroscopy, ankle reconstruction & other women's business but have never ever felt like I do right now -please let there be a light at the end of this tunnel.

  • pollyp

    So glad to have found this forum. 4 weeks post op from complete repair of rotator cuff. Ahead of schedule in physical recovery, but impatience, loss of allowable normal activities (right arm dominant and in a sling is horrible) and dependency to do what are simple things has led to a major pity party with random outbreaks of tears. I know the 6 weeks in a sling, no driving, and sleeping in a recliner is necessary for proper healing, but sometimes it is overwhelming. My husband/caretaker has been wonderful, but I want my independence and freedom back! Fortunately my family has been encouraging, but I'm frankly tired of having to wear this "everything is wonderful" mask. It's great to know that it's ok to be privately cranky, angry, frustrated, tearful, and just plain cantankerous.

  • Susan

    3.5 months out from shoulder repair involving rotator cuff tear, shaving of clavicle, bicep tendonesis and cleaning up of bursa and arthritis, I am doing well and on target for range of motion and beginning strenghtening. Doctor and physical therapist are satisfied with my progress. I have episodes of crying and discouragement. PT hurts, doing exercises at home hurts, I am regaining independence, but still unable to return to my normal social and physical activities. I know this is normal for me, that it will pass and that I have much to be grateful for. None of that makes the tears go away, so I am learning to sit with it and to remind myself that I will come out the other side renewed and able to do all of those things that I so enjoy. I am a newly retired psychotherapist who had a specialty in trauma response and recovery. Knowing all of that does not exempt me from experiencing it! Best wishes to all of you who are struggling. Seeking therapy if it does not get better could be very helpful. Recovery from surgery is a difficult journey.

  • Anonymous-15

    I found this blog by researching emotional effects after surgery. I have had 4 surgeries in 2 1/2 yrs. My 1st surgery was elective, (breast augmentation) and I thought my 2nd one was needed. However after that the last two were necessary due to complications. I am two & a half weeks post my (hopefully) last surgery. Anyway I feel very sad and depressed also very tired. It feels like people just don't understand. But most of all I didn't understand. This blog has helped me to see that this happens more than we realize. I too feel like this may not be the last surgery and that things will never be right. I plan to keep thinking that this is a temporary state of mind, eat right, try and walk to get fresh air and know that this feeling of sadness and regret will pass. I wish positive thoughts and prayers to all those going through this.

  • Dennis

    Like the boxing coach said, "you don't lose it in the ring you lose it in your head." Over-analyzing scenarios and letting those play out in your head again and again is a bad thing after surgery.

    The key is to get outside of yourself and your experience and observe, have fun with, live vicariously for a moment.

    Take the pressure off yourself--listen to your favorite music, see your favorite play watching years of your favorite television show.

    This takes you outside of yourself and gives you the much needed rest to heal. Think of others, meditate and let God work!

  • Ed

    I had my first surgery ever 2½ weeks ago. I was scared before the surgery and am still scared. Having trouble falling asleep, sleeping late in the morning and feeling tired and anxious in the day. Can't function normally, got so tired I fell asleep after 1 hour of walking in the city.

    I get nauseous when I have to care for the wounds because I'm so scared of accidentally tearing them open. I'm afraid of needles and it's amazing I got through my stay at the hospital without freaking out from them, but I think they're also a reason why I'm so anxious now, like a delayed reaction. I can feel the old coagulated blood under my skin in the area of the surgery and that scares me too because what if it doesn't go away and I have to have another surgery to remove it?

    I really don't know how to handle all this.

  • rivers

    Feb. 9th 2015 I went in for a colonoscopy after a problem with diverticulitis. Talked with Dr. about 5 min. then set up colonoscopy. I was awoke in extream pain and told I was being rushed to another hospital for emergency surgery my bowel was perforated. I was never told this could hapen. At that time all I wanted was for the pain to stop. I stayed in hospital 10 days and two other one day stays after my first release. I had part of my bowel removed. I have gone through so much from countless IV's that blow to a stent in my neck, severe nausea and diarrhea to accidents on myself. Nothing feels right! I have had countless test done, needles stuck in my abdomen, you name it they did it. I feel very angery with my Dr. but very scared to say any thing or not do what he says. Before colonoscopy I told Dr. I could not take this antibiotic come to find out after going home that is the antibiotic I was on in hospital and sent home with that made me so very sick. I cry all the time, I'm very scared of everything, and angery too. My body dose not feel the same. Will I ever be my old self again?