Emotional support after an operation

April 18, 2024 Post-Hospital Care, Private Nursing

Emotional support after an operation

Surgery can be a physically and emotionally demanding experience. It’s perfectly normal to experience a range of emotions after surgery, such as anxiety, frustration, or even low mood. It’s important to remember that these feelings are a natural response to the stress and uncertainty associated with the procedure.


Before and after surgery, it’s common to experience significant mental, physical, and emotional stress. This stress can stem from various factors, such as:

  • Pain: Illness and surgery, by their very nature, often involve pain.
  • Serious Diagnosis: Learning about a serious medical condition can be a major source of stress.
  • Juggling Responsibilities: Balancing work, social life, and personal needs during treatment can feel overwhelming.

The good news is that your doctor can offer guidance and support in managing and reducing your stress levels.

Depression after surgery: what to watch out for?

Following an operation, several factors can increase the risk of depression, including:

  • Reactions to anaesthesia or antibiotics.
  • Pain and discomfort during recovery.
  • Reactions to certain pain medication.
  • The overall physical, mental, and emotional stress of the illness, surgery, or both.
  • Concerns about how the surgery might affect your quality of life or lifespan.

Remember, both surgery and depression affect everyone differently. Talking to your doctor beforehand can help you prepare for and manage both the physical and emotional aspects of your recovery.

Knowing what to expect 

Here’s how feeling informed can empower you:

  • Clear recovery timeline: Knowing the expected recovery timeframe can ease anxiety and help you plan your return to normal activities.
  • Understanding medication: Knowing what your medications are for, how to take them, and what side effects to watch out for allows you to be a partner in your treatment.
  • Scheduled follow-ups: Having a clear plan for follow-up appointments ensures you receive ongoing care and have opportunities to ask questions.
  • Emergency contacts on hand: Having a list of emergency numbers readily available provides peace of mind.
  • Tracking symptoms and mood: Keeping a record of pain fluctuations and changes in mood allows you to clearly communicate any concerns to your doctor, who can then adjust your treatment plan if necessary.

By taking an active role in your recovery, you can navigate the process with more confidence and potentially lessen the risk of depression.

Getting up each day

It can be tempting to stay in bed after an operation, but getting up helps:

  • Boosts independence and control: Being mobile allows you to take care of yourself and feel more in charge of your recovery.
  • Creates a routine and gives purpose to the day: Establishing a daily schedule provides structure and purpose, aiding in overall well-being.
  • Improves sleep: Maintaining a clear distinction between day and night can significantly improve your sleep quality.
  • Enhances comfort: Activities like bathing and changing clothes can make you feel refreshed and more human.
  • Promotes variety: Mixing up tasks and activities helps prevent boredom and keeps you engaged during recovery.

Healthy eating supports recovery

Regular meals packed with nutrients can:

  • Boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Help you manage your weight.
  • Provide the building blocks your body needs to heal.

Regular exercise

Light exercise can be a powerful tool in preventing depression, depending on the type of surgery you’ve had. Here’s how it can help:

  • Strengthens the body: Exercise helps rebuild muscle and improve physical resilience.
  • Boosts energy and mood: Physical activity is a natural mood elevator and can leave you feeling more energised.
  • Gets you moving: Stepping outside for some fresh air can do wonders for your mental well-being.
  • Improves self-esteem: Setting achievable goals and reaching them can give you a real sense of accomplishment.

Even a short daily walk can significantly improve your overall quality of life.

Following your doctor’s exercise plan is crucial, especially after procedures like knee or hip replacements. While it may feel challenging at times, sticking with the plan will help you regain mobility faster and improve your long-term recovery.

Establishing a regular sleep routine

A consistent sleep routine is key to reducing fatigue and supporting your recovery. Establishing a regular sleep pattern can significantly improve your physical and mental well-being. Here are some tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Limit daytime naps: While tempting, especially during recovery, napping for long periods can disrupt your night time sleep. Short naps (under 30 minutes) might be okay, but discuss it with your doctor.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. This promotes relaxation and signals to your body that it’s time to wind down.
  • Power down before bed: Avoid screens (phones, laptops, TVs) for at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with sleep.

These simple adjustments can significantly improve your sleep quality and contribute to a smoother recovery.

Friends and family support

Talking to friends and family can be a real help, if you’re feeling up to it. Having company can provide a welcome distraction, lift your spirits, and remind you that you’re not on your own. Plus, friends and family can often lend a hand with household chores, childcare, or other practical tasks that might be tricky while you’re recovering.

Acknowledging your emotions

It’s perfectly normal to experience a wave of emotions after surgery. Anger, sadness, and frustration are all common reactions to the physical and mental stress of the experience.

Finding a healthy outlet for these feelings is crucial. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can be a great way to process what you’re going through. If you need additional support, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. They can recommend a therapist or counsellor who specializes in helping patients navigate the emotional ups and downs of recovery. Remember, acknowledging and expressing your emotions is an important part of healing both physically and mentally.

Helpful resources

The NHS offers 24/7 helplines across England with qualified professionals ready to give advice for you, your child, or someone you care for. –  Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline

Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who can offer advice on medications, including those prescribed for mental health conditions. Many pharmacists can also signpost you to local mental health services if you need further support. – Find your nearest pharmacy

If you’re 18 or over and live in England, NHS talking therapies services are available. These services offer support for anxiety, depression, and more. You can get in touch directly without needing a referral from your GP. – Find an NHS talking therapies service

Your local council may offer helplines, crisis support, and even therapy services. – Find your local council (GOV.UK)

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare, we deliver exceptional care in the familiar surroundings of your own home, empowering you to regain your sense of self. We provide personalised private home care tailored to individual needs in London and the Home Counties. To learn more about our care services and how we can assist with your needs post hospital discharge, please reach out to our team at 020 3008 5210 or email us info@cavendishhomecare.com. We are here to discuss further and address any questions or concerns you may have.