The first few months of post-bypass recovery is largely spent addressing one’s physical condition. However, bypass surgery does take a toll on one’s mental health as well. This makes it vital that bypass surgery patients are instructed on how to deal with the most common mental health impacts of the operation — which include depression and anxiety.
According to the American Heart Association, depression is seen in over 33% of heart attack patients. This is a significant difference from the average depression rate in the country (which is roughly 1 in 10 of Americans that are ages 18 or older.)
For the most part, this is considered completely normal and is nothing to be ashamed of. However, it is important to address these issues early on so that it doesn’t affect your recovery or your ability to return to your daily routine.
Understanding Post-Bypass Depression and Anxiety
There are many reasons why a patient may experience depression or anxiety after their bypass operation. More often than not, it’s the fear of the unknown that causes many patients to become sad or anxious.
Sometimes, it can also be a direct result of the debilitating exhaustion that comes hand in hand with such a complex surgical procedure. Whatever the cause may be…
Fortunately, we can safely say, that these feelings are often temporary and are reported to gradually dissolve after the first few weeks. The return of a normal routine is usually enough to lighten the mood of most patients and allow them to move forward without any complications.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the same for everyone. Just like how physical recovery post-bypass can take up to a month to three months (or more), some people may find it necessary to seek the help of a professional for their depression in order to recover properly.
The Most Common Symptoms
If you believe that you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of your bypass surgery, it’s important to be able to identify the most common symptoms that are associated with both conditions.
For example, the NHS lists the following psychological, physical, and social symptoms for those that may be suffering from depression…
- Helplessness, hopelessness, and low self-esteem
- Irritability or intolerance of others
- Lack of motivation or interest in hobbies or any formerly loved activities
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- Lack of appetite (or sometimes increased appetite)
- Grogginess, lack of energy, or a sudden loss of libido
- Avoiding social functions or contact with friends or family.
As for anxiety, the NHS has listed the following psychological and physical symptoms…
- Restlessness or dread
- Sudden irritability
- Lack of concentration
- Dizziness or headaches
- Heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, or shortness of breath
- Lack of energy or inability to stay asleep
When to Get Help?
As mentioned, in most cases, depression or anxiety after bypass surgery is considered completely normal. However, you may want to seek professional help if your symptoms…
- Persist for two weeks or more
- Prevent you from actively participating in your recovery
- Hampers or impedes on your ability to return to your daily routine
- Or, leads to thoughts or feelings of self-harm or suicide.
Without seeking appropriate professional help, you may run the risk of worsening your condition or, even, causing your own death.
What are the Dangers of Post-Bypass Depression or Anxiety?
In an old issue from the scientific journal the ‘The Lancet,’ a study on post bypass depression was revealed. In this study, the researchers concluded that depressed patients, five years after their bypass surgery, were “twice as likely to die” as the patients who did not experience depression after their procedure.
Thus, the researchers recommend that patients are screened for depression prior to undergoing bypass surgery. This is so that the risks are properly measured and so that the appropriate treatments can be addressed and planned prior to the procedure to prevent any major complications. Thus, effectively saving the lives of post-bypass patients.
Conclusion: The Dangers of Bypass Surgery
Depression and anxiety play an important role in post-bypass surgery recovery.
Although most patients don’t have anything to fear, it should be something that you keep at the back of your mind at all times. Just as we mentioned before, if you, or someone you know, is struggling with getting on their feet after their bypass operation. Or, if you fear that their mental health is impeding their recovery or increases their risk for suicide. Seek help immediately!
One’s mental health is just as important as their physical health when it comes to recovering, and it should not be forsaken or taken lightly!
- “How Does Depression Affect the Heart?” Www.heart.org, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/how-does-depression-affect-the-heart#.WKW8cfkrLIU.
- NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/symptoms/.
- NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/symptoms/.