How to overcome stress and fear of surgery

Experiencing surgical anxiety is nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, far from being unusual, fear of surgery may affect the majority of patients. How it does so can vary, but typical symptoms range from nausea and sleep problems to arrhythmia and stomach complaints. When you experience these symptoms before undergoing surgery, a qualified doctor can ease your fears and help you overcome them.

In order to successfully tackle this common form of anxiety, there are a number of strategies that a patient can seek to pursue.     

Learn about the Surgery    

A recent study found that out of 239 patients going into surgery only 125 knew exactly what the procedure was to entail. Moreover, the study also reported that a majority of those patients experienced some degree of surgical anxiety.     

In terms of charting the causes of surgical anxiety, this finding is significant as it has long been suggested that the roots of the issue could in part be traced back to an underlying information gap. As such, it’s thought that by developing a detailed understanding of an upcoming procedure, a patient may be able to proactively reduce surgical anxiety.     

Talk to the Surgeon    

fear of surgery

By openly discussing an upcoming surgery with an operating surgeon, a patient can develop a clearer understanding of what exactly to expect. Indeed, a surgeon is uniquely placed to provide a realistic picture of likely postoperative outcomes and to lucidly outline the recovery process. Moreover, such frank exchanges can foster a trusting relationship between patient and surgeon and thereby help to further reduce anxiety.     

Similarly, in cases where a patient’s anxiety is grounded in negative past experiences, a surgeon can reassure that the forthcoming surgery is wholly unrelated to such past events. Underlining this distinction can serve to reduce a patient’s anxiety.     

Occasionally, in cases of severe surgical anxiety, a surgeon may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications in order to relieve symptoms.     

Alternative Treatments    

Patients have been known to respond well to a number of less mainstream treatments for surgical anxiety. These include;     

  • Yoga
  • Hypnosis
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • Tapping
  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Supplements    

Herbal supplements should only be used if they have been pre-approved by a surgeon. Such approval is necessary, as many herbs negatively interact with anesthesia and other medications.     

It should also be noted that findings from several studies have suggested that listening to music can deliver significant relief from surgical anxiety.     

Seek Counseling     

Therapists are able to teach to a variety of exercises, which are specifically designed to control surgical anxiety and to tackle physical responses to stress. Diligently practicing such exercises can help patients overcome their fear of surgery.

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