View Full Version : Depression Post-Op

08-07-2008, 02:15 PM
Hi everyone. I'm 10 weeks post-op and I was wondering if anyone experienced depression at this point after surgery. The past few days have been awful for me. I cry a lot over nothing. Could it be from the pain meds? I'm on 5mg of Vicodin or Percocet every 6 hours. I may just stop taking them because I do not want to be like this. It could be from a lot of things and not just the surgery. I have a lot on my mind (classes start in a few weeks and I'm not sure I'll do well; graduating in May and realizing I have to get a real job; I stay home a lot to save money; feeling worthless since I'm not contributing financially and I'm at home all the time, etc.). My dad asked me to have lunch with him today but I had to say no because I get upset so easily. Anyway, I just wanted to see if anyone else has experienced any of this.



08-07-2008, 02:54 PM
Aw, Shell, I'm sorry you are having a down time. I think it is probably pretty normal, but wouldn't hurt to ask your doctor about it too. Maybe some others will have some suggestions. It is quite probable that it's any and all of the things you mentioned-- the meds, the blueness from taking longer than you want to recover, the pressures you are feeling regarding school, family, income, and all the rest. I know by about 10 or 12 weeks I was down a bit too, thinking this is taking FOREVER! And even though we know it will, I think we still think we'll lick it and it won't quite take as long-- or else we think that surely they meant not 100% by now, but at least farther than this! :eek:

I'm so glad you are telling us about your feelings. I think you need to share it with your family too. You have a very loving, understanding family-- or it has seemed that way to me. Are you afraid of letting them down if you explain you are discouraged and depressed? That they'll be disappointed in you? If so, then that is also feeding into your depression.

I know you had all your family visiting last week... the "lull" after all the activity may also be working on you. You were so busy you couldn't think about yourself and these looming problems last week and now they are catching up with you.

One thing I've discovered with age (a good point in having years under your belt) is that life goes on. I think you'll do fine returning to school-- but if for some reason it is too much for you at this point in time, life will go on and you'll do fine if you wait a little longer. Plans change all the time. People adapt to present situations even if they'd rather have had it another way. Life is just full of changes and alterations. You'll be able to deal with whatever comes your way as long as you look for the other viable alternatives that are available too. If you think it HAS to be a certain way, then that is when change crushes a person. We post-op scolis are not flexible with our backs, but we sure can be with how we deal with situations.

I wish you had gone to lunch with your dad. It actually made me wish I could go to lunch with mine! But he passed away a few years ago... I think one of the ways to combat depression is to spend time sharing with your loved ones just how you are feeling-- and also by being active in just doing things with people, rather than being by yourself and thinking it over. We tend to make that black pit bigger and bigger when we are by ourselves.

I know I've kind of rambled on (OK, I ALWAYS ramble on...) but I feel concerned for you. If you are depressed for very long, please be sure to bring it up to your doctor. It could be as simple as needing a change in your meds and then "poof" you'd be over it. Or find something fun or interesting to do for the next few days. Call your dad back up and invite him to lunch at your house-- or say you changed your mind. And let him know you just were feeling blue but you'd still like his company. I'm praying for you, Shell. Keep us posted on how you're doing. Love and hugs, Susie

08-07-2008, 03:30 PM
Shell, if you do a search on "depressed" or "depression" you'll see how common this post-op feeling is. I cried nearly every day for months. It's normal to feel frustrated and blue after such a traumatic surgery, and I also believe that the pain meds contribute to feeling weepy. I needed the pain meds to function however, so I didn't feel that I had the option to stop taking them too soon. I will say that my mood brightened when I finally got off of them...but I was also further along in my recovery and feeling better about life in general.

How you feel now is temporary -- you will not feel this way forever. Hope you feel better soon.

08-07-2008, 03:59 PM
Susie and Chris, thanks so much for your replies. It's just nice to know that others felt the same way. I tried cutting back to just Tylenol the other day and it didn't cut it so I probably won't cut back at this point. I go to see my surgeon next week so I'll bring up the pain meds. I may ask for Tylenol 3.

I should have gone to lunch with my dad. He's really busy so it's hard for him to make time, but he said we could go next week. I don't like to tell my parents if I'm upset or depressed, but I can talk to my sister. My parents always attribute it to my husband (they didn't want us to get married) but it's not him at all. He's what keeps me together when I'm like this.

Thank you both so much for caring. I really appreciate the responses. I am feeling somewhat better now. I get mad at myself when I'm like this because my life is so easy compared to most. Anyway, thanks again!


08-08-2008, 12:17 AM
I honestly felt I was alone in this position till I too myself talked about it!
This is a HUGE life changing event, and with any event of such magnitude brings stress, and mixed emotions. I hope that you find your way up and good things turn around for you!

08-08-2008, 08:17 AM
Hi briarose,

mmw summed it up really well - this surgery is a huge life-changing event, and right after the surgery, you're so focused on the physical things that the big emotions don't hit right away - but boy do they ever later. Reading your post really brought back having surgery for me and getting hit with the depression. I was only 14 when I had the surgery and thought I had to be really strong for everyone around me, so I felt like I had to act "together" all the time... and didn't get hit by the depression until a year and a half post op. At first, no one linked it to my surgery, but when I finally got some counselling, it turned out, it was all about the surgery - I'd just never dealt with the magnitude of any of it. It was a big change for your body and you can give yourself permission to grieve, be frustrated, be sad - whatever it is you feel (I think I'm probably quoting the counsellor I saw without realizing it:). It's really good that you're reaching out and are able to talk about it and eventually you will come to terms with everything and the cloud will lift, but right now, give yourself permission to feel it, because it's more likely to be worse if you try to ignore it. Good luck with the rest of your recovery!

Karen Ocker
08-08-2008, 04:29 PM
I also experienced this awful depression. Some pain docs will prescribe an antidepressant for a couple of months because it can help with pain while tapering off narcotics.

08-08-2008, 10:47 PM
Me too... I had a horrible down patch after surgery, crying over nothing, no motivation to do anything, and feelings of isolation. I really felt like I should be able to do more than I was, but it was like I was covered with a heavy blanket. I also felt really guilty, because I thought I should be doing more than I was, and was capeable of more. I wasn't on any drugs at that time either. I think the huge stress of the lead up to surgery, and then getting through it, and then the immediate recovery were so intense, that when the immediate fight/flight thing was over, then it hit me and I was down. It gets better, but you just have to go through it. Don't be hard on yourself.

08-09-2008, 09:30 PM
Thank you nzgirl, Sarah, Karen, and mmw! It's nice to know that these feelings are normal. I guess I don't really understand why I feel down. The surgery went well and I look a lot better. Someone told me today that it's most likely the chronic pain that I'm in that's making me sad. My husband thinks it's boredom and loneliness. I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things. I just don't want it to last any longer as school is starting in 2 weeks. I really want to be off of my pain meds too, but I'm in a decent amount of pain on them so I guess that's not an option right now. Thank you all for your responses! They've been very helpful!


Ginger W.
08-09-2008, 10:12 PM
Dear Shell,

As I've written in my blog, I struggle with having NO ENERGY. Often, it affects me emotionally. And there is NO QUESTION that my tears flow more freely post-surgery.

A friend of mine barely put her hands on my back to do a little massage and I just started sobbing. Even though I chose this surgery, my body is recovering from the SHOCK of all that invasive work. It was truly a big time blast to our systems and we don't get back into balance lickity-split.

Take tender care of yourself, Shell.

08-10-2008, 03:36 PM
Coming off the pain meds too quickly can also make you depressed. I was a mess when I lowered my pill dosage.

08-17-2008, 11:05 AM
After reading these posts I think I came off my pain meds too soon...
I came off them COMPLETELY one week post op!

I was depressed/grouchy too the first month after surgery, in July.
I think it was mainly because I was frustrated.
I was mad that while all my friends were going out partying for our last summer before going away to college, I was stuck at home resting because I had NO energy.
I was also frustrated that I couldn't do everything by myself because even though I'm only 17, I'm a very independent person and hate asking for help.
I was annoyed that my co-workers asked me why I wasn't at work this summer.
I feel like my friends and co-workers didn't understand how serious of a surgery spinal fusion really is.

I feel ALOT better now....I think it just takes time :)