Anxiety after complete hysterectomy
I was great and healed quickly after my hysterectomy. About 9 weeks into recovery I started to feel a bit down and anxious. Almost starting week 12 and I wake up shaky and nauseous. It’s like my cortisol numbers are off. I’m very anxious and for years I’ve dealt with ocd intrusive thoughts and they have come back too. I went to my gyn but he felt it could not have been the surgery since I was post menopause. I’m going to my regular doc this week. I really feel like the surgery triggered something chemically. I want it to settle down. It would be nice to be heard. I can’t take hormones because I’m on a blocker to fight DCIS. However, I did ask my oncologist if I could come off for a bit to see if I can get back to normal. It’s been rough lately.
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@anon808 Oh, my, this sounds frightening and difficult for you. May I ask if the hysterectomy was for a cancer diagnosis? Since you have been diagnosed with DCIS I'm wondering if this most recent surgery (hysterectomy) has overwhelmed you emotionally and that the anxiety you've experienced in the past has taken a huge upswing in intensity.
Can I share a little of my experience of anxiety with you? I've had anxiety and bouts of depression that extend back into my 20's (I'm 70 years old now). Since a diagnosis of uterine cancer in 2019 (hysterectomy) and then a recurrence in late 2021 my anxiety has increased. I'm experiencing the anxiety differently than in the past probably because the circumstances are different and I have more effective ways to accept anxiety in my life than I did in the past.
Do you have a mental health therapist? Are you taking an antidepressant that targets anxiety? I do both of these and these help me a lot.
I had a complex ovarian cyst, it turned out not to be cancerous, but of course, going into the surgery that was unknown. My surgeon just was of the notion to take everything since I was post menopause. I really did feel good at first. Then a shift happened and now I don’t feel like myself at all. I did have bouts of anxiety and ocd intrusive thoughts in the past but nothing I could not get past. I have a great book that I could work with by Sally Winston. But now i question am I depressed, anxious or both. I started with a talk therapist while I was having this bout of health problems, just to help me with stress. I feel I shifted the focus from stress to anxiety. I’m seeing my pcp Wednesday, my gyn just felt it was not the surgery and was no help. I’m not sure what to expect from him. I wonder if my cortisol is up, I wake up shaky and nauseous. He will probably recommend an antidepressant but I don’t even know where to start. I’m 65. Thanks for responding. I just wish I could turn the switch and go back but now this has started, I’m afraid that’s impossible.
I don't understand why post menopause women are supposed to suffer from low hormone conditions?
There is a reason that HRT was developed, which can help one to live a pretty normal life. I am a patient of the endocrinology group of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and they have me on a HRT regime that makes me feel good and comfortable. I am almost 80 years old, but feel as if I am in my 50's, and I think it is because my hormone levels are there where they should be to make me feel comfortable.
I wish that was an option. Unfortunately, I have estrogen positive DCIS (early detection of breast cancer) and I cannot take HRT. I did stop my hormone blocker for a bit hoping I would feel better but they will want me to start back up. I’ve been on it 3 of the recommended 5 years. I was wondering if I might need to see an endocrine specialist at some point. I’m glad you are doing well.
Thank you. I would see an experienced endocrinologist, they might be able to mix a cocktail for you that would allow you to have some kind of hormones.
@anon808. It seems to me that you are doing everything you can to take care of yourself. It is frustrating that your gynecologist hasn't been much help to you. What does your therapist say? I'm not sure it makes a difference whether it's stress or anxiety. I think of stress as a physiological – your body's – response whereas anxiety is your body's reaction to that stress. If your therapist has helped you with strategies that reduce physiological stress then that has the potential to lower the level of anxiety. So, when I do a mindfulness practice, and I am following my breath that in turn brings down stress which in turn brings down anxiety. This is what I do when I wake up during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep. I don't always recognize that I'm feeling anxious but I *know* it's there.
Like you, I think I'd like to flip a switch and return to life before cancer and my hysterectomy. But since that's not possible and all I have is what's in front of me right now, I have to figure out a way to accept the present.
And like you, I look for strategies and skills that will help me. I cannot take HRT or any estrogen either. As my doctor said, "that's off the table". I wake up sometimes feeling really anxious in which I want to pull the covers over my head and stay there. Yet I will myself to get out of bed and move around. Just moving my body helps me.
When you see your PCP can you ask them if there are any other physiological things to check for that could be causing your symptoms? Would you like a referral to a doctor who specializes in menopause?
@anon808 Am responding because I remember my mom had complete hysterectomy her mood swings and depression became unbearable, but was given Valium for said symptoms. Years later I read that immediately after hysterectomy procedure, regardless of age, a woman’s body goes into menopause both physically and emotionally. There still is not enough research done on both. I say go with your gut and how you are feeling.
I’m wondering if I’m having adrenal fatigue from the surgery. My doc is looking at cortisol levels and my thyroid. No results yet. I’ve had anxiety probably my entire life but I’ve been able to manage it. This is just so different, I am anxious but it is just at peak, I can’t reduce it by breathing or going about my day. I don’t feel like myself. After I exhaust what is perhaps is surgery related, I’ll have to try antidepressants. My PCP gave me Xanax but I don’t know if it will be doing harm if it’s my adrenal glands. Will keep you all posted, thanks for your responses.
My TSH was .38, I have an Endo doctor now. Waiting for additional blood work. Starting prednisone. This is going to be a much longer journey than I was expecting. Also, started Zoloft. Hope to feel more like myself soon.
I would suggest having a complete thyroid panel, not just tsh because that number will show normal even though your other numbers will be off. Thyroid issues seem to be the basis for everything else going wrong including many autoimmune diseases. Don't stop until you get answers.