Anxiety/Depression after spinal fusion surgery
Has anyone had this condition following spine surgery. I understand that up to 20% of people get this, in particular after spine surgery. My surgery was a huge success and I no longer have severe sciatica but it seems the anxiety has moved in to take its place. Doing everything I can within reason during recovery to stop it from taking over. Walk, write in journal, light housework. Any ideas?
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Hello @artsy6013. First, I am very happy to learn of your positive surgical outcome with regard to your sciatica pain. That is wonderful. Now, to get the anxiety and depression under control so you can enjoy this next part of your life!
Apparently, your ability to sleep and get a good night's rest can play a role. How would you say your ability to sleep and get quality rest has been pre-/post-operation?
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I can tell you that pre-surgery, for at least a year, my sleep was regularly interrupted by pain going down my right leg. I used yoga moves to calm it down but that takes time so sleep suffers. Now, post-surgery and without the constant pain, just the stitches healing, I can sleep but I have to let anxiety settle down. When I wake up it is with pretty intense anxiety that I try to keep at bay by doing physical things which helps.
I do have a history of depression but I have been on maintenance medication for some years now without problem. I am still taking venlafaxine and bupropion daily but now it seems to have no impact. That part is puzzling. I spoke to my psychiatrist and he said that since it started up unexpectedly, that it might be related to the surgery and to give it a few weeks to see if it subsides.
Long explanation but more comprehensive. Any thoughts?
@artsy6013 You're not alone. I also experienced intense anxiety related to spine surgery, but my anxiety was before the surgery, not after. I was able to work through all the reasons that I had anxiety from my experiences in growing up, and for me those fears were rooted in how I thought about things, and problems that were never resolved. I had to tell myself to stop reacting like I did as a child when I had no choices. I am in control of my health decisions and I advocate for myself now.
I would ask you to keep a journal of what you are thinking about when you feel anxiety. What are your first thoughts when you wake up that are triggering for you? While you are compiling a list of thoughts, start writing another list of questions that you want to ask yourself asking why you feel this way? Are you recognizing a familiar pattern? What experiences have you had in your life that give you the same feelings? Is this so automatic that it happens before you think about why it's happening? Is it a sense of loss of control of choices? or because of surgery your life will change? Is it OK to have something that needed fixing and isn't perfect anymore? Is it the change? Do you feel like you are being judged?
I can tell you, that when you dive into exploring the "why" and "how" you feel the way you do and write it down, you can see a pattern emerge. You don't need to show that list to anyone. After you understand "why", you can ask yourself "how" can I see this from a different viewpoint? Did you believe something that influenced your thinking, and maybe it didn't matter after all? How can you think differently about it?
I would also like to invite you to look at another discussion about overcoming fear. This is probably the most important thing I have done to change my life for the better is to address, understand, and overcome my anxiety about medicine, and that would not have happened if I didn't have to make a choice about spine surgery. There is a video at the beginning of the discussion of a podcast where I am interviewed about overcoming fear with creativity.
Have you considered a counselor that could help you with your questions and how to re-frame things? Did the video in the discussion generate and ideas for you?
I have had similar experience with anxiety, depression and panic attacks after 2 foot surgeries in 2017. I did not know why I started suffering from these as there was no prior history but I was in such despair and panic at times. My primary doctor and the psychiatrist I saw all wanted to give me meds. I did not take the meds because I was concerned that the meds might 'interfere' with brain functions because my sister had earlier on set dementia. (This concern is purely my own.) I was able to be free of this torment about a year after. I personally think that the pain associated with the surgeries might have trigger some hormonal reactions to have brought on the anxiety and depression.
I am currently waiting to have complex spine surgeries (3 surgeries in 1 week according to the surgeon at Mayo). The surgeries have yet to be scheduled because I am currently under bone treatment. This post brings back such painful memory and gives me full apprehensive of what lies ahead…
I am sorry to have brought back those awful memories for you. If it makes you feel somewhat better, my surgery was a complete success.
How were you able to overcome your anxiety/depression without medication? I understand why you did it. You have to be a very strong person to wrestle with it as long as you have and come out of it. I admire you for that because I think it is a more difficult journey than the surgeries you are about to face. I wish you the very best as you continue to a full recovery without complication, physical or mental.
Thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement.
As for overcoming the depression and anxiety, being a religious person, I listened to Psalm every night going to sleep and listened to a lot of uplifting sermons. It was very gradual… Prior to suffering from depression and anxiety, I had no idea the hopelessness and at times extreme panicky way one feels. I hope you find something which gives you comfort every day. I hope the dark feeling and anxious moments lessens for you, one day at a time. I am rooting for you.
Thank you so much for your response. I hope that I will find something that can help me too. I pray a lot and sometimes that helps 🌻