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Post Surgery Depression

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Depression and Coping
I had a Lumbar Fusion L5- S1 with Laminectomy April of 07. At the time I didn't want to know anything about the surgery. All I allowed myself to know was that they were going to g oin fix the disc and put some rods and screws in. I think this was my way of keeping from freakig out. The less I knew the better.

Well it has been a year since and I have started to read up and see pictures of what was done to me. Ever since I have been depressed and feeling awful. I never knew what a major operation I had. I have also been going through the whole back pain issue and surgery alone. I have a husband, but he is not there for me. The first weeks at home after surgery I have never felt so alone in my life. He would come home from work and never sit or talk with me. I would haveto beg him for a shower or food and he would yell at me. And now of course he thinks because I had the surgery I should be all better. Well we all know you never get back to 100 % pain free! I still have alot of lower back pain, still take pain meds and am limited on what and how much I can do.

Any advice on how to cope with the post surgery depression or where to find help?



  • I'm so glad that you decided to join the forum! I have the same issue in my home as you do in your home- unsupportive husband! I will never, for the life of me, understand why my husband can't show me a bit of compassion when I am hurting so bad or feeling so depressed. He acts like he is just mad about it instead of trying to comfort me. I'm not expecting him to sit and hold my hand or rub my back, but a simple "how are you feeling" would be nice. When he complains of his back hurting, I always ask him if he wants me to rub it for him. He's just not a nurturer (is that even a word?). I love him to pieces though. I just suck it up and keep trucking on. I hope you can keep trucking on too! If you need to vent, get on here and let 'er rip. My sleeping habits stink and I get on here all the time. You can call on me anytime!
  • Welcome to the Forum :)

    There are many of us who have had the experience that you have had with our spouses/partners. It's a phenomenon that seems to permeate the chronic pain world. My belief is that they really have no idea what to do so they do nothing at all. Fear is a big factor here- my husband finally admitted that he was afraid even to sit on the couch with me because I was in so much pain. I never said it but he knows me so well and could read the pain on my face.

    Communication is key in these relationships. We have to talk about it and not sweep it under the rug. You should try to be honest about how you feel and ask him to be honest about how that makes him feel. The answers are suprising sometimes. Men are fixers ans feel frustrated that they can't make us better. I'm one of those "never let em see you cry" kinda gals too and all it did was isolate me. I'm learning....I'm not there yet lol but I'm getting better!

    Counseling is a good thing if you feel depressed and talking to your doc about it can't hurt either. You'll find an amazing amount of support here as well. We've all "been there, done that" in one way or another and most of us are willing to share what helped us get through the tough times.

    Good luck to you lady! Just remember that you have a lot of support here :)


  • It has been a year and a half of recovering from 4 surgeries and fortunately my husband has been there for me through all of this. However, so called friends have come and gone because they thought......... oh who knows what they thought!!!!! And now I don't care, most of time, what they think cause they don't have to live in my body that is in constant pain/numbing. I have found that people who are going through an illness or have gone through one make the best friends. They get the strain, the loneliness, the depression, the helplessness and so much more that we go through.
    The important thing is the way we look at and deal with our experience. It is our path and only ours and so find the fighting spirit in you and figure out what you need to help you through this and then get out and find it. I found out that journaling has been great for me. I can write whatever I want and it helps relieve frustration.
    I think the best thing is finding people who need help and compassion because of sickness and because I have gone through a lot I get some of their issues so we have a lot in common. Turn your needs around and help others. In the end they end up helping you.
  • I am now 12 weeks post op (Charite ADR L3/L4,L4/L5 ALIF L5/S1) and for the last 5 weeks have been really struggling both physically and emotionally. My recovery seems to have taken longer than I expected and the pain I still have has made me feel like I wish I had not had the surgery. I certainly did not expect to need pain medication this long after. I have nearly 30 years of endurance sport behind me and this surgery has changed me from the person I was. I desperatly want to get back to sport but the physio/rehab just seems to be taking so long. I am begining to realise how big this op was and that others seem to experience the low times that I am having - but how are others coping with all this?
  • Recovery has been an emotional rollercoaster for me also. I was very active prior to my injury, and now feel as if I can barely cook dinner for my family on some days. What type of endurance sport did you do before your surgery? Are you expecting to be able to return to it at some point? Have you set realistic guideline for yourself? I only ask because I was very active before, and now have trouble just completing everyday things. Although, every week or so I try to set one new goal for myself, and keep it reasonable. It helps me. Don't get me wrong, I havemy ups and downs.

    If you have been feeling depressed for five straight weeks, you may want to say something to your doctor. That is a long time to feel that way with no relief. Do you have a strong support system at home? A close friend or church memeber to talk to? Don't let those feelings dwell too long. It is not good for you emotionallly, or for you physical recovery.

  • Taraw
    Many here continue to experience what you are feeling, it is in supporting each other through experience that we all get through and it is never my intention to be negative even through my experience has not been successful. On that basis I have valid experience of failure it is not something that I have chosen but something that has been imposed upon me and I am and will continue to survive.

    That denial element is something that we all share not wanting to know certain things and here you have to be selective and read positive element s that will assist you in the future and now dwell too long of those aspects that were unsuccessful. I am achieving on the basis of only a fleeting glimpse of the past and its does take practice and experience to continue to move forward when the reality of expectation are not reached and that disappointment is understandably tangible.

    Some people have said could it get worse, well it could, and some stories here are representative of the tenacity and courage needed to continue, they may only be a few word if the footnote but some this is the life that they live every day. The mode of best practice is here at spine health and you need to sift through he positive information and introduce them into your overall strategy, write down what you are going to do and when, how you are going to move forward, what are the things that will allow you to do this and what is stopping you, it is a marathon and not a sprint, my epidurals laminectomy and fusion failed I have 18 years experience of coping, fighting myself every day and some nights, it is not easy but you can do this.

    Knowledge and understanding are good things but we all need to be selective, I have heart problems I read positive and realistic outcomes, if I read every story I too would become depressed and unmotivated. You need to give yourself sufficient time to deal with the disappointment of what has happened and then move on.

    I wish you well, we have all been where you are, and more.

    Take care and be kind to yourself.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    This situation is all to common for folks that have had to go through spinal surgery.
    First its the PRE-Surgicalfears that we have to deal with. You know you are in pain, you know that you just cant continue going on the way you have been. You are on all sorts of medications but you are still hurting. Then as the day approaches for surgery, the fears start to mount. Your mind starts to race, worrying about the IF's. What happens IF the surgery is not successful? What IF they make a mistake?,
    Maybe I dont need this surgery, etc
    Then you have the surgery and the POST-Surgicaljourney begins. During this time, you can have all sorts of thoughts going through your head. How long will all of this take?
    I am not feeling all that much better, was it a mistake having the surgery? I am hurting all the time? How can I return to doing the things I used to?
    There are the PRE and POST Surgical fears that go along with the physical and emotional elements. Focusing in on the right things to help your progress is so important. It is so very important to keep a positive attitude and approach to your recovery period. Its almost like a battleground.
    Find ways to help make you survive. There are thousands of people who have gone through spinal surgery and have had to deal with some of what you are going through.
    However, when depression or low sinking mood is constant over a period of time, you need to contact your doctor and discuss this. You need not to go through this period of time alone.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Very well said- that somes up everything so very well, particularly the turmoil we are going through post surgery.
    Thank you, it helps knowing it's not just me
  • I am so sorry to hear your feeling so blue!!!! But honestly it is very normal, but you came to the righ place everyne here can relate and is so helpful, however if this depression seems to take over your life or gets much worse you may need to seek help, I am on 3 different depression meds and without them I'd probably be in the ground!!!!

  • I don't know why but knowing someone else has a husband like mine makes me feel better! It just makes me crazy how someone canignore the fact you are in pain. I hurt my back again over the weekend and have been freaking out that I am going to have to go through non stop pain again, and of course not even a " how are you"! I would love to stay in touch with you so mabye we can lean on one another!

  • Hi Taraw, I had my sugery 7-7-08, l4 l5 s1 fusion, i did too much reading up on this board and many other sites so for some part i knew how bad it was going to be. To read and to experience something is, obviously, two seperate things. Pain after sugery was awful, was in the hospital for 5 days, thought going home would be great because my bed would be so much more comfortable, food, etc. But, and this is hard to admit, I have been an emotional wreck since i have been home. For no reasons at all and out of the blue I will start crying and sometimes its from the pain but most of the times I dont know why. MY wife helps at much as she can and says, " it will get better, dont worry everything will be ok, this is normal, what can i do to help?" But that doesnt help at the time. She took the first week off to be with me and that helped, but she has since gone back to work and now I have to deal with listening to her complain about her very stressful job. bla bla bla. I dont know when i am home during the day i feel so alone and so depressed and think i will not be able to do any of things i loved doing in the past. My Dr. said the emotions are normal (i just saw him 7-25-08) as a post op check up. So I guess thats comforting, but i have just not experienced anything like this before with the crying. i had 2 shoulder sugeries a couple years ago and i was fine as far as my emotions were concerned. SO i dont know, basically i am just wondering how long does this usually last, as far as the crazy emotional roller coaster, I am only 3 weeks in ?

  • and not had this problem with the emotions. I have had both shoulders (one of them twice), both elbows, both wrists, three on knee (2 arthroscopic and 1 replacement), and one on back and now fusion (L4-S1). Last year with the knee I didn't get as depressed as I have this year. I am guessing that is was because I could more around more with the knee and didn't have to be as careful of turning over or sitting. I have one month to get me straight enough to return to work. I sit lots, but do have the option to walk around and check on the little trouble makers (I am the In-School Suspention teacher for my district). Keep us posted on how you are. One thing about it we have all been through it and that does help me. Esp. at 1:20 in the morning.
    Feel free to PM me. I usually check in several times a day.
  • I am so glad there are other people experiencing the same things that I am. I had a multi-level fusion on June 12, 2008 & I don't regret doing it at all but I have never fought harder to stay positive. Out of nowhere I just start to cry & can't explain to anyone why because I don't know why myself. Everyone around me talks about how great the surgery was and sort of brushes me off when I try to talk about any fears I have.

    I injured my back in a car accident 5 years ago and I thought had successfully gotten rid of any anger I had with the guy who hit me but I have found myself getting so angry with him for doing this to me. I'm 27 & have an 8 inch scar on my back...he's probably running around with his kids & having a great time and I'm not allowed to sit for more than 30 minutes or lift anything more than 5 lbs!

    I understand that no one else's life stopped when I had this surgery but I feel like I need more. I feel so alone 90% of the time. People either try to baby me or they act like I can do everything I used to be able to years ago. It's frustrating. I just don't know how to cope. I have begun to hate reading, tv & the computer but what else is there for me to do at this point?!?!?

    I guess my worst fear right now is that I will do something to mess the fusion up & will have to go through this all over again.
  • i was so prepared for the pain aspect of post op, i actually thought it was going to be somewhat worse. Dont get me wrong, my back kills still, but i can walk, drive, cook, do things. I too really hope i have not done anything that would negatively affect the fusion. 10 weeks i go for x rays, i pray they look good. i did mow my lawn the other day and know i should not have, but my back was straight and i have a small lawn, and my neighbor came running over and said "Keith, ill do it, ill do it!" i said it was ok i was almost done and i wasnt bending or anything. Of course when i was done and went inside my back started killing me, figures. Get this, i was in the hospital for 5 days, discharged and a nurse came to my house and a PT, i did pt like 3 days a week for 2 weeks, and then on 7-25-08 i went to my post op appt with my sugereon, and he gave me a script for pool therapy starting 8-20-08, i told him how i was having a visiting pt come to my house to do some exercises with me and he said "noooo nooooo u shouldnt be doing any of that yet!",,,,so someone screwed up, i called the hospital today and wanted to know about my discharge and who approved immediate pt for me, imagine if these exercises i've been doing have hurt my progress, i cant say how upset i will be. So, now i wait for the hospital to reply to me with some info. I really am totally bored knowing what i am not supposed to do, i have a dog to feed and i have to bend down to get her bowls, i try to just bend my knees out so i go down perfectly straight but im sure i am not supposed to, i dont know, this all sucks but still glad i got it done, and yes im 36 and now have a 8" scar on my back, lovely.
  • One day some of us are going to look back and say wow! I am looking back at all the pain I endured in my life, sometimes I wanted to go crazy. But I prayed and asked God to heal me, I had to believe that one day I am going to do the things I like to do again. Looking at my progress today my heart is filled with contentment, I am almost back to normal. I give thanks to God for listening to my prayers. It may take longer for some of you, so my encouragement to you is to press on, keep fighting for your health, it will get better. I realized that most of you have gone through much more than I have, when I thought my situation was Huge. Just keep fighting for your health.

    My thoughts are with you guys every day, and I am praying that God will put His healing hands on you.
  • So sorry you don't have the support from your hubby that you need. Just to play devil's advocate, some people just truly do not know how to deal with another person's pain, be it physical or emotional. Maybe he's one of those people who truly feels for you, but doesn't know how to show it. I know, as a caregiver myself, sometimes my mom's pain is so intense that it's exhausting both physically and mentally for me as well, and I find that I just shut my emotions off at that point so I can function. That sounds callous, but in actuality, it's because I care so MUCH, that I have to turn it OFF to be of any use to her and to function myself.

    I could be wrong about all this. He might just be a real pr!ck! Ha ha! Anyway, I hope not, but I hope you can maybe tell him what you need from him and have him respond in a helpful, supportive way. Good luck to you...
  • You've been through so much, I would be surprised if you weren't feeling how you do! I also find that staying positive is hard to do; sometimes I even feel like I'm going crazy. My outlets have always been through sports, so laying around and doing the same things all the time is frustrating and disheartening...anything I can do I just don't even want to do!
    I just found this site yesterday, and it makes me feel better to listen to other people and relate. BTW, I'm 27 too. My whole family's got back issues; some due to car accidents, some genetic. I grew up pounding away on my spine with all my sports, and I "strained" my back playing in a beach volleyball tournament when I was 22. Now I'm a nurse, and 15 months ago I herniated a couple of my lumbar discs positioning a patient who was having trouble breathing. Since then, its been a long battle with Worker's Comp, and I finally got surgery almost 3 weeks ago. What a depressing and long road!!! :jawdrop:
    Anyway, I hope you find some companionship here so you don't feel so alone. I think thats something we all feel, but I think we all have to remember that it will get better with time, one way or another...and we are not alone...
  • I am so Blessed I found this Site. I have no Physical or Emotional Support , it's a long Story . I have had two Major Operations in 12 months and I have been my Support. I have really had to be my best friend and I even talk to myself. The Depression is a tricky one . The Chronic Pain , Fear , Medications , all mixed into one , are a lethal cocktail. Coming on here seeing I am not alone , Chatting to others has been brilliant. Depression is a very powerful thing and every day , I myself awake to deal with it all over again . I do believe though that Sometimes , to a degree , I am as Happy as I Decide to be ! Some days the pain is very difficult , some days , I get up on the Wrong Side and some days I feel sorry for me and wonder if it is ever going to end. I like to remember always that it could be worse for me . I try to find Acceptance , Compassion , Understanding and Humility. I try to go for a walk , to feel and see nature and or , simply get my mind off me . It does work ! Perhaps sometimes , in some ways it could be easier not having a Partner , we are all isolated to a degree because of our circumstances and others expect of us at times , things we can not give. I understand it from all sides , even having a caring , helpful partner , :) cannot take the Pain away . Good Solid Support is great . I believe this Site to be just that . I know today , I am not alone , that there are those who are suffering more , there are Answers to Questions and the Mighty Chat Room. Thankyou Everyone Heaps
  • I just had a total spinal fusion for scoliosis on 6/10/08. I'm still being braced, using a cane for walking, ect. I was expecting the depression after surgery as I work in the medical industry.

    I have my good days & bad & am on 3 different depression meds for now. It's such a hard surgery to overcome & yet 'this too shall pass'. I think 'everyday is one day closer to being well again.'

    We may never get back to 100% factory 'brand new', but at least we have the chance to get better & feel better, but it will take time & that's the hard depressing part.

    I haven't started back to work yet, but am driving now & trying to cut back on the pain meds. Staying home is so hard for me as I'm always on the 'go', but the isolation, pain & sadness WILL END.

    God is my support & I turn to him in times of fear & loneliness. Hang in there!!!!
  • i too am having crying and depression. sometimes i feel guilty i cant be the housewife and mother of 3 i used to be. i had l4-s1 laminectomy/fusion with 6 screws and 2 rods on 7/24/08. i feel like my life has totally changed and im not quite sure what to do. im looking forward to eventually living a painless life from the surgery but not quite sure if i have the patience to wait months for it to happen. i will be 35 next week but feel like i live the life of a 90yr old at times. its just a big adjustment to have limitations when im used to taking care of everyone(including nursing at my job) and everything. it does give me hope knowing that there are those of you who understands. thanks for all of your personal info and advice.
  • since surgery I cry and I'm angry! I see the cut on my neck and want to go knock out the girl who hit my car and then ran away. I yell at everyone and cry! Jesus I need to get out of the house.
  • I'm reviving this old thread because its all new to me. Actually, it isn't. I had some kind of depression after my fusion but I also had so many memory issues that I had forgotten the depression. I remember talking to a psychologist friend about it and saying that I had done some research on the internet and there is such a thing as post-surgical depression. She told me shehad had a similar experience. When I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted, I became EXTREMELY depressed. Now, I'll grant you, that fusion was brutal and unsuccessful to boot. But the SCS was a breeze; easy as pie and afterwards my pain was much improved. I have since come to learn that some of the drugs put in our cocktail of anesthesia, the ones used for nausea, pretty much suck all the serotonin out of our bodies and leave our brain unable to produce more for weeks or months. WOW! Why didn't the pain psychologist tell me about this???? Noone told me and I was so confused about why, when everything was going so well I am suddenly depressed. The pain psychologist said it was because the crisis was over so now I had to opportunity to let it out emotionally. Susan.
  • i can so relate to depression after surgery. my last 3 times on the table have all brought depression. a week ago as you know i had scs implant. i did have depression for several days then it subsided. last night i went to a pub, had glass of white wine and today i'm down in the dumps and paranoid...back to ground zero with serotonin. will have to build it up again.
    i better not have any wine for awhile...take care....pete
  • I had L5 S1 fusion in August of 09. My doc told me I wouldn't be in pain by week 2 post opp. Well needless to say he was wrong. He refused to give me anymore pain meds. and I was forced to go see a pain management doctor. He put me on cymbalta, lyrica and nucynta. The cymbalta made me feel like I was jumping out of my skin...anyone else? He told me the nucynta(which is a c11 class drug) was for breakthru pain. But I guess he lied cause I did research and it a slow release drug. My problem is I have this overwhelming feeling of not giving a crap. This is not me. I've come to terms with the possiblity that I may be on pain meds for a while but this depression is killing me. I'm 34 years old and I've never felt this way before. My husband I'm sure is growing tired of me not cooking dinner, or doing laundry, but I can't make myself care. I'm not sure as to what I am seeking out of this post. I just don't know what to do. anyone? D.
  • I had L5 S1 fusion in August of 09. My doc told me I wouldn't be in pain by week 2 post opp. Well needless to say he was wrong. He refused to give me anymore pain meds. and I was forced to go see a pain management doctor. He put me on cymbalta, lyrica and nucynta. The cymbalta made me feel like I was jumping out of my skin...anyone else? He told me the nucynta(which is a c11 class drug) was for breakthru pain. But I guess he lied cause I did research and it a slow release drug. My problem is I have this overwhelming feeling of not giving a crap. This is not me. I've come to terms with the possiblity that I may be on pain meds for a while but this depression is killing me. I'm 34 years old and I've never felt this way before. My husband I'm sure is growing tired of me not cooking dinner, or doing laundry, but I can't make myself care. I'm not sure as to what I am seeking out of this post. I just don't know what to do. anyone? D.
  • n8calnn8cal Posts: 2
    edited 11/19/2014 - 4:55 PM
    I really don't wish this on anyone . I had a decompression/fusion two weeks ago where my longtime girlfriend stayed with me while I was awake . Now that I am home she is back to work on the road . I am here with my old dog and a puppy , I enjoy there companionship but feel sad, feel like crying and like nothing really matters . I find myself sleeping when I can but have no desire to do anything . I have been on the oxy but I think that may be part of the problem .Now I read where some anti depressants disappear from your system after surgery . I can see that . Hope things get better soon .
  • It has been five weeks since my hemilaminotomy microdiscectomy L5/S1 and although I knew this wasn't going to be easy, I did not anticipate it to be this hard either. Although I don't have the pain from before, the healing pains seem to be kicking my butt literally! The sciatic pain is quite a doozie especially laying down or trying to get in and out of my car. I started physical therapy two weeks ago and was really excited to get to do something physical today but that was short lived because since then I have been in so much pain. I hate it because prior to surgery I was very active working out 1-2 hours a day 5-6 days a week. I was a fitness director, spinning instructor, kickbox instructor, and fitness trainer for 12 years. You don't realize how hard it is to not do anything until you physically can't. Everyone assumes I hurt my back working out but I didn't I was in a car wreck and had to be taken out with the jaws of life when I was a teenager 23 years ago and I was never supposed to run again but I did and I lived life to the fullest doing every active thing I could find so sitting here barely being able to do anything is weighing hard on me. I know everyone is different, but is week 8 the magical number when life is maybe close to being back to normal. I just want to know there is light at the end of this tunnel.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 484
    Hi Solshine : )

    Sorry to hear you're struggling so...recovery does seem to take longer than anticipated.

    I wished I would have tried aqua therapy for my first phase of PT...I had to discontinue regular therapy for a month and just exercise in pool. Then another stretch of doing both, then back to just the pool for another month....then I'll go back to regular PT. The water therapy is easier on me, plus they have a hot tub that feels great.

    Things will get easier as time goes on....as long as we aren't doing things that aggravate, or hinder our recovery.
  • SolshineSSolshine Posts: 6
    edited 10/10/2015 - 11:15 AM
    Thank you for your response . That sounds amazing! Did you basically walk and do resistance type training ? I'm joining a gym with a pool as soon as my stitches heal completely. Are you able to swim ?
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