Post Surgery Psychological Trauma

Post Surgery Psychological Trauma

For most, we do not consider life saving surgery as specifically traumatic until we, or someone close to us, have unexplained psychological symptoms post surgery. Surgeons almost never warm of any psychological symptoms that their patients should be aware of post surgery, and few seem to refer their patients to psychological professionals. We should, however, not expect every surgery to be traumatic. The following types of surgeries and events could leave a person traumatised

  • Surgeries involving cancers
  • A patient has not been sufficiently informed of the surgery they are going to be subject to (patients always have the right to refuse medical treatment even if it is life threatening as long as they have been informed of such)
  • Not taking into account current psychological disorders that the patient might suffer from and the possible consequences of the surgery on such an individual
  • Where a patient is informed of the surgical procedure they are going to undergo and due to anxieties or health related phobias they suffer from, their anxiety increases
  • Surgery is prolonged and complicated
  • Surgery is an emergency due a traumatic event itself (although it is difficult to know if it is the surgery or the event itself that has contributed to the trauma symptoms)
  • Waking while under anesthetic during the surgery, being aware of what is happening to your body but unable to communicate it
  • Admission to an intensive care unit because of critical illness or an accident

If a patient, or you have been a patient exposed to any of the events listed above, suffers from any of the following symptoms, it is recommended that they/you attend a session with a qualified trauma counsellor in order to assess and receive counselling for Trauma:

  • Recurring memories or dreams (nightmares) regarding the event
  • You go out of your way to avoid certain activities, places, or thoughts related to the event
  • You may become irritable and suddenly angry, experience mood swings
  • Feel sad or hopeless for a long period
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Feel paranoid about the state of your health
  • Experience confusion
  • Have panic attacks, feel anxious and fearful
  • You have withdrawn from others
  • You feel disconnected and numb
  • You constantly feel fatigued
  • Aches and pains not directly associated to the surgery
  • Muscle tension
  • Experience a racing heartbeat at times
  • Unexpected noise may make you jump, or you may feel the need to be constantly alert

Should you wish to contact a counsellor please go to the Counsellors tab on the Ethos website.