Overcoming anxiety before surgery

Overcoming Surgery Anxiety

Whether you are having major surgery or just an out-patient procedure, it is normal to feel some anxiety. Doctors perform surgeries every day, but most patients have little or no experience with surgical procedures. Anticipating the unknown can make you a bit tense.

Anxiety’s Physical Effects

Anxiety can cause physical symptoms that may interfere with your surgery or your ability to recover afterward. If your anxiety becomes severe, you may experience:

  • Nausea
  • Quickened pulse
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath

The symptoms of anxiety can mimic heart disease and make it more difficult to handle pain. Anxiety also interferes with some of your cognitive functions, making it harder to remember pre-operative instructions and other advice you get before surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

Anxiety is a natural fear response that helps you protect yourself from an impending threat. When it comes to surgery, it is natural to be afraid, but you are not in immediate danger. If surgery was not the best option for you, your doctor would advise against it.

Reducing your anxiety before surgery can make you a better patient and improve the outcome of the procedure. Here are a few stress-reduction strategies that may work for you:

  • Be well-informed — Ask all of your questions in your appointments leading up to surgery. Talk to other people went through the same procedure. Find out exactly what you can expect.
  • Let music soothe you — Listening to relaxing music before your surgery can reduce your blood pressure and slow your breathing. It can counteract the physical signs of stress.
  • Meditate — Meditation and yoga are shown to induce relaxation, slow breathing, and calm heart rate. You could consider yoga part of your pre-operative routine and even begin practicing meditation as soon as you learn you will have surgery.
  • Distracting activities — Reading, listening to music or playing video games can be ways to distract your attention from your impending surgery. When your mind is focused on something else, you won’t be worried about the surgery.

Pre-surgery stress is similar to the what you feel at other stressful times in your life. Whatever stress-reducing tactics work for you will also work before surgery. Being able to relax before surgery is important and can be achieved in many individual ways.

Professional Help to Overcome Stress

If you are unable to overcome your anxiety about an impending surgery, there is help available. The hospital or medical clinic where your surgery will be performed has medical professionals you can reach out to. Explain your concerns and what you are feeling, and they can direct you to the right department.

Sometimes talking to an anesthesiologist and learning more about how anesthesia could affect you will reduce your anxiety as well. If you cannot pinpoint the exact cause of your stress, maybe talking with a counselor or social worker will help. They can help you understand your anxiety and how to better cope with it.

With the right preparation and support, you should have no trouble reducing your anxiety before surgery. To find out what type of surgery you may need or if you can be treated with a non-invasive procedure to relieve your pain and improve mobility, contact the specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic.


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