• Mary

How can a surgery affect your Mental Health.

Updated: Jul 28

People go under surgery for all sorts of reasons. Surgery may be needed to improve one’s health, and it can even improve someone’s outlook in life. Say for example you suffer from a disfigurement which has made you very self-conscious or you have an excruciating back injury for which a certain neurosurgical procedure offers hope. As mental health practitioners we see patients who are about to have or have had the following procedure, and it's not hard to see why.

● Breast Biopsy - Usually done for patients who have been found to have an abnormal growth of breast tissue (a lump) around the chest area, and depending on the biopsy, a lumpectomy may follow (the removal of the lump, which have been found cancerous or malignant, through surgery. Diagnostic breast procedures are associated with increased anxiety. ● Cataract Surgery - When cataract clouds the lens of the eyes, it is inevitable to have this surgery to allow the replacement of the eyes’ lens with an artificial one.

● Cesarean Section - When a doctor decides that it is safer for a mother to have a child via an incision through the abdomen as opposed to a vaginal birth delivery.

● Coronary Artery Bypass - Commonly known as bypass surgery, this is done for those suffering from coronary artery disease. It is usual that a vein from the leg is drafted and serves as a replacement for the damaged artery. There are associations between heart disease and depression.

● Free Skin Graft - This is the removal of healthy skin and is used to repair areas of lost or damaged skin in another part of the body. This is usually done for burn, injury or surgery patients whose skin is beyond repair. Burns and the context around the injury is associated with presentations to mental health professionals.

● Low Back Pain Surgery - Caused by so many reasons like stress on the back, injury or some physical disorder, surgery is not commonly considered unless the treatment has been tried. This surgery attempts to correct the spine’s alignment.

● Mastectomy - The removal of all parts of the breast and is usually done to treat cancer. There are also three types and these are (i) Partial or Segmental Mastectomy involves removing a larger part of tissue around the breast cancer, (ii) Total or Simple Mastectomy which is the removal of the entire breast and (iii) Modified Radical Mastectomy is the total removal of the breast which also includes the total removal of the lymph nodes.

However, for others with pre-existing anxiety or depression, the word “surgery” may bear with it a stigma that may be too overwhelming to take. When a person has an underlying mental concern, the word surgery becomes a lot more complex than just simply aiding the body. Surgery becomes a burden, a huge concern and wellness become a secondary concern as fear of the unknown take the first seat. For those with underlying mental health concerns, surgery becomes a totally different story. People who have an existing presence of instability often are the most impacted by their concerns about an upcoming or an executed surgery, as well as its effects. Help is available. Mental health is one aspect of a pre or post-surgery that must never be neglected.

Oftentimes, to ease the anxiety or depression of a person who is to or has undergone any type of surgery, they are advised to seek services in psychiatry and/or psychology. Psychiatric services may help with medication to ease their stress, whereas some would just rather talk their stresses over through the expertise of those who are professionals in psychology. Either way, if one feels bothered, uneasy, stressed and simply unstable, it would then be wise to contact one’s family doctor so that immediate steps may be taken to address a person’s mental health concern.


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F: 08 6313 0920

​E: support@epsychiatry.com.au

This is not an emergency service. Same day consults are not available. If you are in distress please contact your nearest emergency department, your local area mental health service triage or dial "000".  

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