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Feeling depressed after surgery; how common is it and what can be done to overcome it

Have the dark clouds of depression entered your life after a major surgery such as a total joint replacement? You are not alone. Most active individuals experience some amount of depression when their activities are restricted during their post-surgical recovery.

The depression after surgery may be caused by a variety of factors, frustration at not being able to do simple tasks, noticing changes in your body, having to rely on others, reaction to anesthesia, the effect of antibiotics, or temporary discomfort and pain during the healing process.

Here’s how to prevent depression from impacting your quality of life during the postoperative period:

  • Learn as much as you can about the surgery, how long it will take to fully recover and what you can do to speed up the process. This will help you feel more in control of the situation.

  • Be an active participant in your recovery. This may mean participating in physical therapy or doing the exercises as suggested by your surgeon at home. You should also follow your surgeon’s recommendation on activity restrictions to prevent complications.

  • Reach out to friends and family. Depression makes you want to isolate yourself, curl up in a ball, and never talk to anyone. Having someone to talk to can help lift your spirits. Make sure you have supportive people around you.

  • Remember the discomfort or pain you feel during your postoperative recovery is only temporary you will get better.

  • Keep a journal so you can record your journey of healing. This may help you objectively assess your progress.

  • Try to find something to do that it doesn’t require using the limb that was operated on.

  • Don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist if needed.

  • Remember that everyone recovers at their own pace and you shouldn’t allow yourself to get depressed by comparing yourself with others. On social media, people generally tend to post only positive things and won’t talk about their struggles in the postoperative period. You need to know that you are going to be fine and you will get through this temporary phase.

Taking care of your mind is very important during this time as a positive mental attitude can take you out of the depression, speed up your recovery, and motivate you to return to a full and active life.

Dr. Jacob brings cutting edge techniques and technology to the Oklahoma City area. He has extensive training in minimally invasive, rapid recovery joint replacement as well as robotically assisted hip and knee replacement. Dr. Jacob is a pioneer in outpatient joint replacement allowing some patient to go home the same day as their procedure and recover in the comfort of their own home. The cornerstone of Dr. Jacobs practice is to have the recovery process be easier, faster and less painful allowing his patients to get back into the game of life. Dr. Jacob is committed to bringing the highest level of orthopedic care while treating each and every patient like a family member. Providing you with patient centered care you can trust.

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