Depression and Back Surgery: The Connection

Many spine surgeons expect patients coming in for back pain to have some form of mild depression. Dealing with pain for an extended amount of time can be difficult to manage, causing psychological stress. Many patients don’t expect their mental state to affect the results of their back surgery, or they believe that after visiting a doctor their depression goes away because the pain is alleviated. However, people who have clinical depression may find that their expectations are not realistic, and therefore are not prepared to handle the stressors that come with recovery. If you are thinking of undergoing back surgery but believe you have clinical depression, it is always best to speak with a psychological expert first.

Defining Clinical Depression

While clinical depression takes on many forms, it often demonstrates an array of common symptoms. Most people believe that the condition is a matter of feeling sad for several days, but the health effects can dig deeper. These symptoms include:

  • Decreased or Increased Appetite
  • Either Sleeping Too Much or Barely Sleeping
  • Daily or Constant Melancholy
  • Reduced Energy
  • Difficulty With Focusing
  • Thoughts of Self-Harm
  • Feeling Hopeless or Helpless

Sometimes depression comes from a major, traumatic life event, or it can be a matter of brain chemistry. Regardless of the reason, these symptoms can endanger a patient’s recovery period after back surgery.

How Can Depression Affect Back Surgery?

After a back surgery, your spine surgeon will most likely recommend a routine or plan to help your body recover. This plan may include physical therapy, a diet, assigning a weekly amount of sleep, or a light exercise routine. A depressed person’s physical symptoms – such as lower energy or difficulty sleeping – can make following these plans more difficult. The psychological aspects like lowered motivation could also stop someone from going to physical therapy sessions or exercising when they need it.

Can You Postpone Your Back Surgery?

Although a few back pain conditions – like a spinal tumor – need immediate attention, more often than not a back surgery can be delayed to address mental health concerns. Spinal surgeons can help refer patients to a psychological expert that can provide an accurate diagnosis based off your symptoms. For a New Jersey Spine Surgeon who understands your needs and will work with you to help alleviate your back pain, contact the Spine Institute today.