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Help- Post surgical depression-severe

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Depression and Coping
I'm not sure this is the right place for this post. Sorry if I make a mistake. I'm crying as I type this. My fiancee had back surgery a month ago. (It didn't work) Before this herniation he was very active going to the gym, boating, motorcycle, very phyisical job. He was always out going, social etc. I went to every appt. with him, slept in a chair at the hospital, etc. Well last monday he kissed me as he went out the door for a short walk and didn't come back. He has gone back to stay at his house. He said he still loves me and will be back but wants to be alone. I know he is depressed. He wont answer the phone for me or friends. He doesn't want visits from anyone. He just sits in the house. (neighbors tell me, they are worried too) I just feel so helpless. I want to help and support him and take care of him. He said he doesn't understand why I want to be with him because he cant do anything anymore. sorry for the long post. I just need some help. Is this normal? How can I help him if he wants to be alone? I am heartbroken and so hurt and so worried about him. Thanks to anyone who responds.


  • That's rough what's going on right now with you and your boyfriend. Would you be able to talk with someone in his family to see if he's doing okay? I hope he can get through this and see a Dr. or Therapist to help him. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Charry thank you so very much for the response. He doesn't have much of a family to speak of. The only one he is close to is his grandma and she is elderly. I have spoken to his dr. today and he has scheduled an mri for this week. He said he may just keep him after the appointment and do more surgery. He had L4 and L5 surgery. I just feel so helpless. I have been reading this site and it seems that it is normal for depression to happen after back surgery. I just don't think its good for him to be alone. I am hurting but I am more worried about him and his well being. I am also afraid he wont keep his appointment this week. Does anyone have any advice for him or myself for coping with this? Thanks.
  • It's good you talked to his doctor, maybe they can get through to him. I don't really have any suggestions.

    Not sure what I would try.

    I hope everything works out ok.
  • We all react differently to stress and to surgery as well, so it is hard to say what is a "normal" reaction.

    However, your boyfriend's situation strikes me as a bit extreme. First, he is just a month out from surgery. Many are still in a good deal of pain at this point, wondering if surgery was "worth it," or believing it didn't work. For many people, it is simply too early to know how it will ultimately turn out. Recovery from any spine surgery is a lengthy process.

    Many people do not understand going into the surgery that spine surgery is different from any other surgery. Once the patient gets through the healing from the surgical process,(from the general anesthetic, the incision, pulling muscles apart, etc.) that is only the beginning of the entire process. Many patients think getting through the post-surgical healing is the end of the process and that they should be "well." But it doesn't work this way. This can be a major cause for depression if the patient expects to feel better immediately, and, does not.

    I hope you can get your boyfriend to go to the upcoming appointment. I hope others have some suggestions on how to do this!

    Good luck.
  • I hope his doctor also addresses his depression and if needed, prescribes an anti-depressant(some are used for nerve pain, too.) However, it can take 4-6 weeks for an anti-depressant to kick in and my personal belief is that a new prescription should require some sort of assessment by a counselor, too. For example, my workplace contracts with a counseling service for an EAP(Employee Assistance Program) for free counseling sessions.

    I do think it is somewhat usual for anyone, especially active folks, to adjust to a major surgery that limits activities. I hope his pain is being addressed. Pain can also lead to depression and depression can increase pain.

    You cannot make him go to the appointments, but I sure hope he does go. Maybe you could write down the web address for this site and give it to him in a note? It has been a lifeline for so many(including me) to see that other people are going through some of the same stuff and we are not alone.

    If you have serious concerns about his mental health, you can always call 911 and have police/medical assess him. He has a right to refuse treatment(even if it's not what his doc wants) but if he is neglecting himself to the point it is dangerous(hygiene, eating, meds, etc.) that could prompt an assessment.

    I'm not suggesting that you threaten him. But I would write down this website for information purposes and also you might be able to say if he doesn't go to the appointment just to get the MRI and see the doc, you have serious concerns about his mental health. I'm sorry he is going through this, but glad that he has someone like you who cares.

  • If you read the other thread on post-surgical depression, you'll see that some people have bad reactions to the anesthesia. This causes severe depression. It has nothing to do with adjusting to one's new status (i.e. "I'm no longer able to do what I used to do"). It is a simple chemical response. From what I've read, the guilty drug is usually one of the anti-nausea meds put in our drug cocktail during surgery. Anyway, simply stated, it sucks the serotonin right out of us and we are left depressed. Anti-depressant drugs are the only way to replace the serotonin. Hope this helps. Susan
  • Harley, I give you a lot of credit for hanging in there. He doesn't realize it right now but later, when he's doing better, he will appreciate all you are doing for him. Please remember to take care of yourself thru this, too. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that you also need some TLC. Hope your situation improves very soon.
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