July 8, 2022

Having Surgery? Here’s How to Prepare Yourself Mentally & Recover Faster

by Psych Times Staff

Every year, around 50 million people will have surgery in the US alone.  With a few exceptions, all of these people will experience anxiety before the event. Most individuals, however, do not consider the deeper psychological concerns that might be produced by preoperative anxiety, an overlooked side effect that plays a key part in the success or failure of surgery.

Psychological stress before surgery not only make the process difficult on the day of the procedure but also has a significant impact on a person’s recovery. While there is little doubt that medicine has evolved substantially over the last few decades, the difficulty of elevated anxiety persists and has even increased with time.

This pattern can be attributed to a variety of factors. One of the most crucial is that health care is now driven by profit. As a result, numerous hospital-based psychological preparation programs for surgical patients have been discontinued, particularly in an age where COVID-19 is prevalent.

We are also seeing a trend that favours hospital consolidation. This results in larger facilities that are less concerned with patients’ emotional well-being. Furthermore, despite a significant amount of research pointing to its unequalled benefits, traditional social structures, such as family or friends, are disintegrating as a go-to source of support.

So, how do we deal with preoperative anxiety? Here are some pointers to keep in mind the next time you or a loved one is preparing for surgery.

  • Learn everything you can about the process from reputable medical sources rather than random websites. Many hospitals also provide information or can direct you to reliable sources for common procedures. 
  •  Make a list of questions and go over them with your medical professional. In general, studies show that the more knowledge you have prior to surgery, the less anxious you will be during the procedure.
  •  Understand your options for pain treatment following surgery when meeting with your anesthesiologist, as preparation is essential for recovery.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon or consultants about their expertise, experience and certifications. Also, ensure that the institution has the necessary medications, equipment, and procedures in place to treat emergencies, especially if there is no local emergency facility. This may also help to protect them against claims from a medical malpractice attorney should anything go wrong. 
  • Spend the time leading up to the surgery staying as active as possible, eating well, and getting plenty of rest. If you smoke, you should quit as soon as possible, even if it is only a day or two before surgery, because smoking can interfere with breathing and recovery following anaesthesia and surgery. Meetings with the medical team, including the physician anesthesiologist, will lead your next steps.
  • While it is important to have help at home from family, friends, or other caretakers before and after the treatment, it is not always necessary. Having someone you can talk to about your concerns, anxieties, and recovery issues who you trust can help you mentally digest what is going on.

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