Preoperative Anxiety

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Preoperative Anxiety

After a few visits and talks with your doctor, you are finally ready to opt in for surgery. You have a set surgery date, have been informed about the procedure, and the expected recovery time. But the preoperative is causing you physical and emotional discomfort, stress, and tension. Your anxiety increases as you are getting closer to your surgery date which is also causing you to doubt your decision.

First and foremost, know that this kind of anxiety is very common.  You are not alone. Many patients who have an upcoming surgery feel a surge of anxiety mostly due to the fear of the unknown. In fact, feeling a little preoperational anxious is normal. But when anxiety becomes excessive, it causes one to feel out of control and can makes the activities of daily life difficult.

If and when you are experiencing severe anxiety, be sure to seek professional advice.  If and when your you are anxious due to the potential surgery, controlling the anxiety well enough to allow adequate treatment and surgery to proceed is essential.

Here are 6 tips to cope with your upcoming surgery, whether you’re dealing with normal or severe anxiety:

Speak up

When anxious, instead of keeping your worries to yourself, talk to your surgeon and doctor about your concerns. Do not be shy or hold back, take your concerns off your chest. Having a full understanding of what’s realistic during and after your procedure can help you manage your anxiety and your physical and emotional responses to fear of unknown.

  • Tell your surgeon about your anxiety. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past or stories you have heard based on other people’s bad experiences.

Be Informed

An important step in dealing with preoperative anxiety is to have all the right and detailed information regarding your illness, all the treatment options available and the potential complications of such treatments. Being informed can relieve a great deal of worry.

  • Know why you need the surgery and how it’s performed, including the process of anesthesia
  • Know your surgeon’s experience and their expertise in managing the different treatments options offered and their potential complications
  • Be informed regarding how long you will need to be on sick time and if your workplace offers disability coverage that you can use.
  • Be informed regarding the cost and find out what payment plans are available for the procedure that you are opting to get.

Get support:

Ask your trusted family members and friends for their support during this time.

  • Surround yourself with love and support. Do not hesitate to ask for help or accept offers from friends.
  • We all need a little extra love and care at times, an going through a surgery is one of those times.

Reward yourself:

Promise yourself something to look forward to. Knowing a reward is waiting for you at the end, can keep you motivated. A reward can be something simple like a favorite snack or something extravagant like a trip.

  • You may want to create a list of goodies loved ones can bring you during recovery like a favorite book, flowers, or snacks
  • You might want to take that trip or buy yourself a luxury item after your recovery. This will keep your spirits high and give you something to look forward to after surgery.

Take time to practice self-care:

When feeling anxious many people forget to take care of themselves. Remind yourself that self-care is essential in managing your anxiety.

  • Give your body the gift of nutritious food.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Write daily self-reflection
  • Practice mindfulness breathing and meditation
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Engage in gentle movements and stretching

Speak with a psychotherapist:

If your anxiety is severe and persists, even with a full understanding of the surgery and what’s realistic during and after your procedure, seeking professional help and speaking with a psychotherapist may be an option.

  • You don’t have to live with anxiety and fear.
  • For many anxiety problems therapy is often the most effective option.
  • Anxiety therapy treats the symptoms and uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears

Lastly, remember that it’s normal to feel anxious before surgery. Even if a medial procedure can restore your health, most people feel stressed pre-operation. However, it’s critical to make sure that fears and anxiety do not become too overwhelming for you and significantly impact your quality of life. At the end, if doing the surgery is vital, it may help you to remember that anxiety is temporary, but the surgery you have scheduled will help you to feel better and have a better quality of life.

Written for CEAPS by Nahid Fattahi

Nahid Fattahi is a human rights activist, speaker, and writer. She works as an adjunct professor of psychology at Pacific Oaks College, and AMFT and APCC based in Silicon Valley.

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