Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 21, 2022
As we’ve talked about on numerous occasions on the blog in the past, spine pain can have a significant effect on a person’s mental health. Studies have shown that people with chronic back pain are at a much higher risk for a depressive episode than someone without back pain, and your mental health isn’t in the clear once you’ve undergone spine surgery. In fact, many patients deal with depression, anxiety and negative emotions in the wake of spine surgery, and this can be an especially vulnerable time because they are also dealing with the physical pain from the trauma of surgery.
With this in mind, we always consult with our patients and talk about the mental side effects of their pain condition and the effects of surgery to help mitigate the mental burden after their operation. Today’s blog topic centers around the ways doctors and patients can help prevent depressive feelings and emotions following a spinal procedure, with a special focus on the physical and mental ways to fight back against negative thoughts.
Physical Ways To Prevent Depression After Spine Surgery
We’ll start with some of the physical ways you can help avoid negative emotions and depression following spine surgery. Depression can be caused by a number of different factors following a surgery, but two of the most common are physical pain and your perception of progress. By diving into treatments and lifestyle choices that help to control pain and improve function, we can help ward off negative emotions and depressive thoughts. With that in mind, some treatments and habits to help maintain a healthy mindset and improve your physical outcomes (which can help drive mental health well-being) include:
- Participating in a physical therapy program
- Getting at least seven hours of restful sleep each
- Making sure you consume a healthy diet that promotes healing instead of potentially making problems worse (diets high in fat or sugar can lead to weight gain, which puts more stress on your spine, or inflammation that can impinge spinal structures)
- Following your doctor’s rehab instructions to avoid a physical setback
All of the above are important aspects of a rehabilitation program that is designed to reduce pain and improve function, which help to ward off negative emotions that can be caused by pain and a lack of progress. But overcoming the physical obstacles to recovery is only half the battle. You also need to be wary of the mental ways you can fight back against depression and anxiety after spine surgery.
Mental Ways To Prevent Depression After Spine Surgery
How you approach your recovery and the obstacles you’ll encounter along the way can also help or hinder your ability to maintain a healthy mindset following spine surgery. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can take care of your mental health so that depressive thoughts are less likely to occur after a back operation:
- Manage Expectations – It’s important that you and your doctor have an open and honest conversation about your expectations and goals for the operation and your recovery. Depressive episodes are much more likely if you have mismatched expectations for your functional abilities or pain levels after surgery, so having a conversation to help set realistic expectations can help avoid unwelcome surprises.
- Health Stress Outlets – You’re going to be stressed at points during your recovery, so it’s important that you find healthy ways to manage this stress so that it doesn’t make the situation worse. Dive into a physical therapy routine, practice some meditation or deep breathing techniques, or talk with a loved one to get things off your chest. Find ways to help mitigate stress so that it doesn’t wear down your mental health.
- Find A Support System – Finally, make sure that you lean on a support system that can help you when things get tough during your rehab. Whether that’s in the form of friends, family or an online support group, find people who you can talk to, ask for help or just connect with over a shared issue. Knowing that you have people who can empathize or help you during your time of need can do wonders for your mental health.
If you can do all of these things, and you trust your surgery to a skilled spine surgeon who understands the mental and physical toll that back pain can have on a person, we’re confident you’ll be in a good position to have a healthy body and mind after your spinal operation. For more information, or for help with your spinal issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today at (651) 430-3800.