Beware the post-op blues

After an operation, some people can feel down. Here we’ll talk about tips to manage the post-op blues, what signs to look out for, and when to seek help. 

The post-op blues can be a reaction to a number of things: the general anaesthetic, pain and discomfort, the lack of mobility, and an increased dependency on others.

If you’ve recently had an operation, you may be focussing on your physical recovery, but it’s important to look after your emotional health too.
In most cases, the blues will lift as you recover and resume normal activities.
Here are a few tips to help manage your mood as you recover from surgery:
  • Ask your family and friends for support. They can offer assistance and also help cheer you up when you’re feeling flat. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell them how you’re feeling.
  • Go outside for a period of time every day. Enjoy some fresh air and some sunshine.
  • Find ways to pass the time — you could try listening to music, playing games, reading or watching movies.
  • Try not to nap too much during the day so you can get a good night’s sleep.
  • Start to resume your daily routines, hobbies and activities as soon as you are able.
  • See your doctor if symptoms of depression last for a couple of weeks or impact on your everyday life, such as the ability to think, feel or socialise.
worried looking young person
Some of the symptoms of depression can include:
  • Persistent low mood and tearfulness
  • Low self-esteem, with thoughts of inadequacy or guilt
  • Not enjoying things in your life that you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping, unrelated to physical discomfort due to surgery
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks 
  • Difficulty coping with post-op challenges (e.g. decreased mobility) 
  • Loss of appetite or excessive eating
If you’re concerned about your emotional wellbeing or the emotional wellbeing of others, speak with your doctor. 
For more helpful advice on how to help yourself recover from an operation, check out our article ‘How to help yourself recover from an operation'.
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