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More often than not many individuals experience postoperative depression due to the change and disruption of their everyday routines. Plagued by discomfort and surgery related health issues, patients tend to fall into a silent depression.  Numerous medical research studies have shown that the negative mental health of patients can have an adverse effect on their postoperative recovery and also contribute to an increase in their experience and perception of pain. Unique health offers post surgery care services to help your loved ones keep a positive outlook after surgery and recover faster.
Identifying and understanding the cause of depression after surgery can actually make it easier to manage and alleviate over a period of time, as depression can lead to increased physical sickness and further delay the operation recovery. Postoperative depression is usually identified by an on-going low mood and feeling of hopelessness or a loss of interest in activities which used to be quite dear to them. Other symptoms which are more subtle and often overlooked include;


  • Difficulty with memory and the making of decisions.
  • Continuous feelings of fatigue (although some fatigue and tiredness is normal).
  • Change in appetite (either eating much more or way less than usual).
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping more often than usual or experiencing insomnia).
  • Delayed or slower movements and speech.
  • Inexplicable feelings of quilt, stress and anxiety.
  • Thoughts of self-harm brought on by feelings of despair for no specific reason.

The causes of such depression can vary from patient to patient and some even exhibit signs prior to surgery.


  • Pre surgery depression: anticipating surgery can be a daunting and often generate feelings of anxiousness and stress. Such feelings come about as patients are concerned about numerous issues such as seriousness and severity of the operation, medical bills/ expenses and childcare. It is important to go into surgery with a positive mentality and attitude.
  • Stress: physical, emotional and mental stress can be high pre and post surgery. Likely stress contributors are illness diagnosis, pain related to illness or surgery and management of ones work, social and personal life during the course of treatment and recovery.

After surgery depressive thoughts and feelings are amplified as one now enters the recovery phase and the amount of activity and movement made by he or she is further limited for a specific period of time dependent on the severity of the surgery. A patients reaction to anaesthesia, antibiotics and pain killers are influencing factors which can increase the risk of depression or intensify it.  A major contributor would be reflection of ones quality of life and lifespan thereafter.


Depression and surgery have different effects on each individual. The first step in reducing postoperative depression would be to fully understand and know what to expect before and after the surgery. Talking to a doctor, qualified medical personal or even family members will help to significantly manage and reduce anxiety. It is vital to ask all necessary questions and raise any concerns or uncertainties one may have about the surgery. Individuals tend to feel more in control of the overall situation if they are aware of how long the recovery process is likely to take and the different stages of recovery as well as understanding the medication and know how to identify any possible side effects.


Documenting changes in mood or levels of pain will help doctors to adjust or change treatment plans. Taking care of yourself and giving purpose to each day will make individuals feel more independent and in control of their situation. Establish tasks and activities which will encourage mental stimulation but not cause physical strain, this will make for a more rewarding recovery process. Following a healthier diet will help individuals feel both mentally and physically better, along with managing their weight and getting the important nutrients they require to heal.


Certain surgeries are more likely than others to carry a higher risk of postoperative depression and have a major impact on a persons mental health. Examples of such surgeries and procedures include; heart surgery, gastric bypass, cancer related surgeries or amputation surgeries after trauma. The abovementioned surgeries can result in chronic pain, possible reduced mobility for a period of time and ongoing treatments which may lead to discomfort. Individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or are simply older in age (± 60 yrs) may experience a decline in their attention span, memory and will be subjected to a longer recovery process.


Recovering from surgery is a naturally lengthy process but most people return to a normal life with minimal lifestyle changes required. Experiencing post surgery depression can lengthen the recovery time and sometimes render the surgery ineffective. With the correct support and assistance one can make a speedy recovery. Take advantage of Unique Health’s postoperative care services and contact them today!

Unique Health has been established in 1988, the client care base has grown more than 50% with continuous growth opportunities. The structure of the company enables Unique Health to adapt to market needs. For this reason Unique Health offers services 24/7 and nationally in South Africa. Unique Health also offers intellectual property and assistance to similar companies outside the borders of South Africa.