- What can help relieve anxiety before surgery?
- Depression after surgery: Symptoms, causes, and tips
- Depression before surgery
- Depression after surgery
- Understanding what to expect
- Getting up each day
- Reaching out to friends and family
- Eating healthfully
- Exercising regularly
- Having a regular sleep routine
- Expressing emotions
- Staying healthy
- Setting improvement goals
- Focusing on rest and patience
- Discover How Plastic Surgery Can Strongly Affect Your Emotions
- Pre-Surgery Anxiety? The Anesthesiologist Can Help
- So, there is actually a name for fear of surgery — tomophobia?
- What can you do about this anxiety?
- What else can anesthesiologists do to help with anxiety?
- Many people are also terrified of pain. As a pain specialist, how can you help with that?
- Do you make a conscious effort to avoid prescribing opioids?
- What about mind/body approaches? Do they help?
- How did you choose this field in the first place?
- Are you able to help patients with stress in every case?
- Mental health problems worsen with cosmetic surgery
- Mental health may worsen
- A comprehensive study
- Larger breasts, shorter lives
- Most girls are pleased with the results
- Related content
- Drills, needles, and pain, oh my! Coping with dental anxiety – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing
- Dental anxiety and phobia
- Prevention and the mouth-body connection
- Managing pain
- Managing anxiety
- Medications to reduce dental anxiety
- Take-away messages
What can help relieve anxiety before surgery?
Created: February 14, 2006; Last Update: February 8, 2018; Next update: 2021.
It is totally normal to feel anxious before surgery. Even if operations can restore your health or even save lives, most people feel uncomfortable about “going under the knife.” It is important to make sure that fears and anxiety don't become too overwhelming.
There are many things that can help people better cope with anxiety before surgery: Many hospitals offer special support, and family and friends can help too. Although there is not yet much research on strategies for managing pre-surgery anxiety, some evidence suggests that certain measures such as music and sedatives can help.
It is very normal to feel anxious before having an operation, especially the day or two beforehand, which are often spent in the hospital preparing for the operation.
Sometimes people have day surgery, where they go to the hospital or practice, have the procedure and then go home on the same day.
But even then it can be hard not to worry about the operation, the possible risks and the anesthetic beforehand.
Severe anxiety can cause unpleasant symptoms and stress. Typical symptoms include a pounding heart, a racing heart (fast pulse), irregular heartbeat, nausea, a nervous stomach, shortness of breath and sleep problems.
These anxiety-related symptoms can be particularly worrying for people who have pain due to a heart condition. Anxiety can make pain worse, as well as making it harder to cope with the pain.
But the physical signs of anxiety are usually not a sign that a heart condition is getting worse.
Anxiety also becomes a problem if it makes it harder to understand and remember important things you are told about the operation, such as advice about how to prepare for it or about recovering afterwards.
The first thing you can do to reduce anxiety is learn to understand how it affects you. Anxiety is a very strong feeling. One of its functions is to protect us from danger. So anxiety may stop you from getting into dangerous situations in the first place.
It also prepares your body so you can defend yourself or quickly escape from the danger – a reaction also known as the “fight-or-flight response.” That's why anxiety increases your heart rate, increases your blood pressure and keeps you awake.
But if there is no real danger, this response isn't helpful and can have negative consequences.
Over time, most people learn how to manage their own anxiety and handle frightening situations. They develop suitable strategies to cope with what is causing the anxiety. But going into the hospital and having an operation is often a completely new situation. Here they often need emotional and practical support from friends and family too.
People might cope with pre-surgery anxiety in very different ways: Some try to prevent anxiety or stress by getting information early on and talking with other people about their concerns.
Others distract themselves by reading, or use exercise or relaxation techniques slow and deep breathing. Several studies have suggested that listening to music before surgery can relieve anxiety. Music can help you relax and distract you.
Different people will find different types of music helpful, depending on their personal taste in music.
There are some things that patients should be able to take for granted in a hospital: For example, that the staff understand the needs of the patients, waiting times are kept as short as possible, and the hospital stay is made as pleasant as possible.
Most hospitals provide contact with counselors, social workers or volunteers who offer support and assistance. The most suitable type of professional support will depend on what is causing the anxiety. For example, someone who is afraid of having an anesthetic will need a different type of support than someone who is mostly anxious about being in a hospital.
Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation or muscle relaxation can be helpful. These techniques can be learned in classes or with the help of pre-recorded audio training courses.
Massages, acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy or hypnosis are sometimes offered before surgery too. But they haven't been scientifically proven to help relieve anxiety before surgery.
People who are already in hospital the night before an operation are usually given medicine to help them sleep or a sedative to reduce anxiety. Benzodiazepines are often used for this purpose.
These drugs reduce anxiety, help you to relax, and make you sleepy at the same time. They might also make you feel drowsy or nauseous. The sleep hormone melatonin is used in some hospitals.
But this medication has only been approved for use in people who are 55 and older. The possible side effects include headaches and stomach pain.
Sedatives are also given before the operation, usually in the last two hours before the anesthetic is given.
It is important to tell your doctor if you already took a sedative before arriving at the hospital.
Many people who smoke tend to smoke even more when they’re feeling anxious. Even if that calms their nerves in the short term, smoking increases the risk of complications after surgery – particularly related to the wound-healing process. Starting nicotine replacement therapy one to two months before surgery can reduce the risk of complications.
- IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helpingpeople understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and healthcare services.Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to theGerman health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individualcase can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.Our information is the results of good-quality studies. It is written by ateam ofhealth care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You canfind a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated inour methods.
Depression after surgery: Symptoms, causes, and tips
- Surgeries with a high risk
- Getting help
Many people experience depression after surgery. Ongoing health problems, discomfort, and a change in routine can all contribute.
Research shows that mental health issues can negatively affect a person’s recovery from surgery.
Also, depression after surgery can increase the perception or experience of postoperative pain.
Understanding the cause of depression after surgery and what to do about it can make it easier to manage. Here, we look at the link between surgery and depression. We investigate why it happens and give some tips about how to cope.
Depression involves an ongoing low mood and other symptoms, which may include:
- difficulty making decisions
- problems with memory
- eating more or less than usual
- sleeping more or less than usual
- a loss of interest in activities
- irritability and restlessness
- slow movements and speech
- feelings of anxiety, guilt, stress, or a combination
- feelings of despair or hopelessness with no specific cause
- thoughts of suicide or of harming oneself or others
Depression can also increase the risk of physical illness and delay recovery from an injury or operation.
There are many reasons why depression is common before and after surgery.
Depression before surgery
When a person is anticipating surgery, various factors can make depression symptoms worse. For example, a person may feel more anxiety and stress because they are concerned about the procedure and issues such as finances and childcare.
Having depression may make surgery less ly to be effective, according to the authors of a 2016 review. For example, they note that people with depression may seek medical treatment at a later stage of illness.
The authors of the review noted that postoperative depression was common and proposed screening for depression after surgery to ensure that people receive appropriate support.
Levels of mental, physical, and emotional stress can be high before and after surgery.
Common causes of stress include:
- anything that results in pain, including illness and surgery
- a diagnosis of a serious illness
- trying to balance work, social, and personal life during the treatment period
A doctor may offer advice about reducing and coping with stress.
Depression after surgery
After an operation, factors that can increase the risk of depression include:
- reactions to anesthesia
- the effect of antibiotics
- pain and discomfort while recovering
- reactions to certain pain relievers
- physical, mental, and emotional stress resulting from the illness, the surgery, or both
- concerns about the impact on the quality of life or lifespan
Both surgery and depression affect individuals differently. Talking to a doctor can help a person prepare for and manage the situation.
The following tips may help reduce the impact of depression after surgery.
Understanding what to expect
Share on PinterestTalking with loved ones and healthcare professionals can help reduce anxiety before and after surgery.
Being aware of what to expect before, during, and after surgery can help reduce symptoms of depression. For this reason, it is important to raise any questions or uncertainties with the doctor.
A person may feel more in control of their health and the overall situation if they:
- know how long recovery is ly to take
- understand what medications do, how to use them, and how to spot any side effects
- have a clear plan for follow-up appointments
- keep a list of emergency numbers handy
- monitor any symptoms or changes
Noting down any fluctuations in pain and mood can make it easier to explain concerns to a doctor. The doctor may suggest ways to adjust the treatment plan.
How long does it take for dissolvable stitches to disappear? Find out more here.
Getting up each day
It can be tempting to stay in bed after an operation, but getting up helps:
- a person feel more independent and in control
- establish a routine and give purpose to the day
- differentiate between day and night, which encourages better sleep
- with bathing and changing clothes, which can make a person feel more comfortable
- vary tasks and activities
Reaching out to friends and family
When possible, talking to friends and family can help. Having company can provide distraction and lift a person’s mood. It can also remind a person that they are not alone.
Also, friends and family can sometimes help with chores, childcare, and other practical needs.
A healthful diet with regular meals can help a person:
- feel better physically and mentally
- manage their weight
- get the nutrients that they need to heal
Also, eating with others can be a chance to interact with family and friends.
How can the diet affect symptoms of depression? Find out here.
Depending on the surgery, light exercise may help prevent depression.
- help strengthen the body
- improve energy levels and mood
- encourage a person to get out and about and breathe fresh air
- increase self-esteem by setting achievable targets each day
Even a short daily walk can boost a person’s overall quality of life.
After some procedures, such as a knee or hip replacement, the doctor will recommend an exercise plan to help become mobile as soon as possible.
It is important to follow this plan, even when it feels difficult, as it can improve the long term outlook.
Having a regular sleep routine
Establishing a regular sleep pattern can reduce fatigue. It can also help a person recover and support physical and mental well-being.
Tips for better sleep include:
- going to bed and waking up at the same times every day
- avoiding daytime naps, if possible
- keeping the bedroom dark and at a comfortable temperature
- leaving mobile phones and other devices outside the room at night
Many people experience anger, sadness, and frustration after surgery. Finding a suitable way to express these feelings can help.
This may involve talking to a friend or loved one or asking a doctor to recommend a therapist or counselor.
Unhealthful choices can aggravate symptoms of illness and have other negative effects.
It is important to:
- quit, reduce, or avoid smoking
- limit or avoid alcohol consumption
- follow a doctor’s instructions precisely
Setting improvement goals
Being aware of how their recovery is progressing can help people manage their depression.
Setting realistic improvement goals, however small, can keep a person motivated. It can also help them focus on how far they have come, rather than how far they still have to go.
Focusing on rest and patience
Letting go of the daily routine during recovery can be frustrating.
However, if possible, try to:
- be patient
- keep in mind that the recovery process will come to an end
- avoid returning to tasks and responsibilities until the recovery is complete
Serious surgery of any kind can trigger postoperative depression.
Factors that can increase the risk include:
- chronic pain or illness
- other ongoing treatments that cause discomfort, such as chemotherapy
- a long recovery time
- a major change, such as reduced mobility
Some surgeries are more ly to lead to depression. Examples of procedures that can have a major impact on a person’s mental health include:
A 2017 study notes that many women experience depression for up to 3 years following a mastectomy for breast cancer, but that the long-term outlook is good, especially for younger women.
Additional factors can also contribute to changes in thinking and mental health after surgery. For example:
Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of depression, and surgery can increase this risk.
Intensive care: People who spend time in intensive care units may also have a higher risk of postoperative depression, which can persist for several months.
Early Alzheimer’s disease: People with early Alzheimer’s but no previous symptoms may experience changes in thinking after surgery.
Aging: Postoperative cognitive decline is relatively common among people aged over 60. This can affect memory, attention span, and the ability to focus.
Here, learn more about a mastectomy and the recovery process.
Share on PinterestIf a person is experiencing depression after surgery, they should try to speak to their doctor.
During follow-up visits, a doctor may ask about symptoms of depression.
Their questions may concern:
- eating or sleeping habits
- emotional changes
- energy levels
- thought patterns
If signs of depression appear, the doctor can provide help, including referrals, if necessary.
Recovering from surgery can take time, but most people return to a full life, even if this requires making some changes. If a person experiences depression, this can lengthen the recovery time.
Anyone who experiences depression after surgery should notify their doctor, who can provide help.
- Mental Health
- Anxiety / Stress
Discover How Plastic Surgery Can Strongly Affect Your Emotions
Image Source/ Getty Images
You may be surprised to learn that having surgery to improve your looks can have an emotional aftermath. Too many prospective plastic surgery patients fail to consider the emotional aspects of cosmetic surgery.
There are positive emotional effects, to be sure, but most people tend to forget about the possible psychological ramifications of undergoing major surgery to improve one's looks. The phenomenon of post-op depression is real, but its effects can be minimized if patients are prepared for the possibility.
The incidence of post-surgical depression is much higher than most people realize and often gets glossed over in the “risks and complications of surgery” pep talk given by most surgeons to their patients.
Let’s examine some of the major contributors to post-surgical depression, most of which are common to any type of surgery:
Did you know that traces of the chemicals used to “put you under” in general anesthesia can remain in your body tissues, affecting you both physically and emotionally, for up to three weeks? These residual effects can include lethargy and depression, and even bouts of unexplained weepiness or despair. Incidences of these effects seem to increase in proportion to the age of the patient.
Post-surgical pain management usually requires at least a brief period of the patient being on prescription narcotic painkillers. Most narcotic painkillers are in a class of drugs considered depressants. This does not necessarily mean that they will make you depressed.
In layman’s terms, it just means that they tend to slow everything down, much alcohol, but on a larger scale.
Just as people have different emotional reactions to being intoxicated after a few drinks, they also have different reactions to being on pain meds.
Sometimes, these reactions are similar to (and compounded by) those related to the residual effects of general anesthesia, as listed in the paragraph above.
Let’s face it: Almost nobody enjoys being stuck in bed, depending on others for help with basic tasks, being forced to abandon our usual routines and take time out for healing. Feelings of restlessness, boredom, helplessness, and even uselessness are quite common. In addition, the lack of physical activity usually means a short supply of endorphins, which is never a good thing, mood-wise.
In a nutshell, when you look and feel terrible physically, you’re ly to feel terrible emotionally as well. Imagine lying in bed in pain, doped up on medication which makes you feel slightly nauseated… Then you go to the mirror to sneak a peek. Your face is bruised and swollen, sporting visible stitches reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. It hardly sounds a recipe for bliss, does it?
- Make sure you have a strong support system in place.Spouses, siblings, parents, adult children, and friends can be of invaluable help to you in your recovery. If a loved one has had any kind of plastic surgery before, that’s all the better. Talk out your anxieties and feelings with them. It can be very comforting to know that you’re not alone in this.
- Have a plan. Set up your “recovery station” before you go in for the surgery. At the very least, you should have all these things within easy reach: books and magazines, healthy snack food, a pitcher of cool water, a phone, TV and remote, warm slippers, a few changes of comfortable clothing. You should also be set up very close to a bathroom.
- Follow your surgeon’s instructions. Be sure to take all medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor, and refrain from strenuous activity for as long as he or she advises.
- Give yourself a break. Don’t try to be a super-hero. This is the time when your loved ones are supposed to be taking care of you, not the other way around. Don’t go back to work before you’re ready. If your surgeon says that you can go back in two days, take four days off.
- Be patient with the healing process. Don’t make judgments on the outcome while you’re still swollen, bruised, and stitched up.
- Eat as well as possible. For the first day or two, you probably won’t have much of an appetite. When you do feel ready to eat, do yourself a favor and eat the freshest, most nutritious food you can find to help your body heal. (Not only will this accelerate the healing process, but it will also do a world of good for your mental and emotional state as well.) Also, drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.
- Avoid alcohol for at least three weeks. Check with your surgeon for specific recommendations.
- When in doubt, call your surgeon. Your surgeon is trained to deal with not only physical complications of surgery but also with emotional after effects. He or she understands what you’re going through, and can help talk you through it. Your surgeon may also decide to change your medication if he believes that your current prescription is contributing to any adverse emotional issues you are experiencing. Furthermore, if necessary, he can refer you to a mental health professional who is qualified to deal with post-surgical depression.
Thanks for your feedback!
What are your concerns?
Pre-Surgery Anxiety? The Anesthesiologist Can Help
Donna-Ann Thomas, MD, says anesthesiologists have the ultra-important role of keeping the patient safe.
Credit: Robert A. Lisak
Anesthesiologists think of themselves as the patient’s best advocate—the doctor who is focused on keeping you safe by administering drugs and monitoring levels of consciousness and functions of vital organs, while minimizing pain during and after surgery. That is in stark contrast to their portrayal on the TV show Gray’s Anatomy, which treats anesthesiologists as if they were a step down from surgeons. Donna-Ann Thomas, MD, doesn’t that.
Dr. Thomas is an anesthesiologist, as well as division chief of Regional Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine for Yale Medicine. She says anesthesiologists have the ultra-important role of keeping the patient safe. Earlier in her career, Dr.
Thomas herself once insisted that a surgeon stop what he was doing when she suspected a safety issue needed to be addressed.
And she is keenly focused on making sure the patient is comfortable and feeling minimal pain before, during and after surgery.
Dr. Thomas urges patients who are anticipating surgery to talk to their anesthesiologist, who is a specially trained physician and can discuss any concerns.
Drawing upon vast experience and research, and a surprisingly comprehensive toolbox of treatments, they welcome conversations with patients. “Nobody should have to be afraid.
In the vast majority of cases, we can do something,” Dr. Thomas says.
We caught up with Dr. Thomas to discuss her work as an anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist.
So, there is actually a name for fear of surgery — tomophobia?
That’s right. But I think the patients who have this type of intense fear of surgery are a minority. There are many patients who have a psychological phobia—fear of spiders, fear of flying, fear of lizards.
These are real pathologies. There are some patients who are afraid they won’t wake up from surgery—or they worry they will wake up during surgery, which is an extremely rare phenomenon.
I certainly wouldn’t belittle any patient who has these fears.
But, in general, patients going into surgery often have a generalized fear of the unknown. You are about to lose control where you previously had control.
In my experience, there are many patients who undergo surgery whose generalized anxiety goes unrecognized and can sometimes be exhibited as pain. Women have so many stressors: We have a family, we have to make sure our children are going to get to the school bus on time.
Men have this too, but women especially feel they have to make sure that everything is in order before they go into surgery.
What can you do about this anxiety?
I look for it in patients—before the surgery. As a pain physician, I am more aware of it than anybody else, because psychology and psychiatry are part of a pain physician’s training. I’ve seen a patient’s anxiety after surgery (symptoms of anxiety can resemble pain symptoms in this setting) treated with pain medications because anxiety was not immediately obvious.
We need to remove the stigma that is associated with anxiety or depression—or any psychological issues.
I tell patients, “If it were your heart you wouldn’t think twice about going to a cardiologist. The brain is just another organ.
” It would be ideal if we could screen all of our patients for these issues before an operation. That would also help us better care for them after their surgery.
What else can anesthesiologists do to help with anxiety?
It might help people to know that anesthesiology is one of the safest fields in medicine. Anesthesiologists have helped to increase the safety of surgery.
We monitor patients closely, we take the necessary precautions, and we have data and scientific evidence to show that the risk to patients in the hands of a physician anesthesiologist is low.
We have developed policies and protocols that are evidence-based for patients with heart disease, diabetes, difficult airway and other problems. We have studied and continue to study all of these things to make surgery a better and safer experience.
At Yale Medicine, the fact that we have physician anesthesiologists is key. Many people are not even aware that we have gone through four years of medical school and internships, and completed a residency in anesthesiology.
And many of us specialize even further, in such areas as cardiac anesthesiology, neurology anesthesiology, regional anesthesiology, critical care, anesthesiology for obstetrics, thoracic anesthesiology, pain management and pediatric anesthesiology. All of these specialists work at Yale Medicine.
If you are a patient, having a specialized anesthesiologist increases your safety during the surgery significantly.
Many people are also terrified of pain. As a pain specialist, how can you help with that?
There are so many things we can do for pain today. It’s important to remember that the physician anesthesiologist is really a perioperative physician, which means we provide care before, during and after surgery. We start working with you before the surgery to determine how we will treat your pain throughout all of these phases.
Many people are familiar with spinals and epidurals. We still use those techniques when necessary, but we have so many other tools in our toolbox now.
For example, a nerve block (a local anesthesia that blocks the transition of pain messages to the central nervous system), can profoundly reduce pain in the area being worked on, but not the rest of your body.
And there are many varieties of blocks we can do now—even in breast surgery. This is an exploding field.
Do you make a conscious effort to avoid prescribing opioids?
Yes. Opioids are a national concern and addiction can start following an injury or surgery. My primary concern is the effect the opioids have on breathing. We can reduce the number of opioids that a patient needs after surgery without affecting their pain control.
One thing we do is take a multimodal approach (instead of using opioids alone, the doctor supplements them with medications for such problems as inflammation and muscle spasms that may be contributing to the pain). Each patient and surgery is different.
Some will even do well with over-the-counter pain relief.
In many cases, doctors can prescribe fewer opioids. A study at Dartmouth last year tracked the opioids prescribed for a number of surgeries.
From that, the researchers estimated that patients actually need far fewer opioid medications than are generally prescribed.
The thing is, when we as physicians prescribe a particular quantity of a medication, many patients continue to take those medications even after the incision has healed, and that can cause problems.
We get patients who are still requesting opioids from a surgery they had several years prior or because they have had multiple surgeries or injuries.
I am not saying this is never the case, just that it is very infrequent.
We need to be telling patients that if they find they need to take opioid medications weeks after surgery, they need to have a conversation with their health care provider.
What about mind/body approaches? Do they help?
This is an important strategy. There are many studies that show that when you have chronic pain, there is a reprocessing in the brain that leads to negative feelings.
This can be changed with daily meditation, and techniques such as biofeedback therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, which can reprocess the brain toward positive feelings and help to reduce pain. So, the mind/body connection is really strong.
I personally speak to my patients about daily meditation, about guided imagery and about biofeedback. Those things play an important and solid role in decreasing anxiety and managing pain.
How did you choose this field in the first place?
It was expected of me, in a sense. I started in general surgery and when I switched over to anesthesiology, the vice chair and head of pain medicine was a doctor named Sebastian Thomas. I sort of became the heir apparent because my last name was Thomas! I resisted at first, then I realized that pain medicine worked well with the same things that attracted me to surgery.
On a more personal note, my sister has sickle cell anemia. I’m a first-generation physician, and I didn’t know about pain medicine at that time. Now taking care of patients with sickle cell is one of my passions. But I’ve also treated many other types of patients. One profound story involved a postpartum woman who came to the ER with painful “sciatica.
” She said an obstetrician told her that this kind of pain is common when you have a baby and she’d have to live with it. That broke my heart. She had sacroiliac joint inflammation due to hormonal and physical changes that happen during pregnancy, and we treated it with an injection to the area, which relieved her pain. I’ve had many patients this who cry when their pain goes away.
It really humbles me. It’s what drives me.
Are you able to help patients with stress in every case?
We can almost always do something for you. If you are going to have surgery, you should never be afraid to talk to the anesthesiologist about anxiety and pain. At Yale Medicine, we are available to you at any time before your procedure.
We have reviewed your chart, we have examined you, we know the potential areas of concerns, and we have a plan to prevent or to treat you and address any issues.
You just need to have confidence in knowing we are here to help and protect you, and that we strive daily to maintain a high level of quality and safety. You are in the very best hands.
Mental health problems worsen with cosmetic surgery
Girls who undergo cosmetic surgery are also more ly to have sustained injury from cutting themselves.
That is the conclusion in a new study by Tilmann von Soest and colleagues at Norwegian Social Research, who looked at younger women's mental health before and after plastic surgery.
About seven percent of Norwegian women between the ages of 18 and 65 have undergone cosmetic surgery, according to Statistics Norway.
They found that girls who decide to undergo cosmetic surgery are on average more depressed and anxious than those who do not. They are also more prone to suicide.
Mental health may worsen
“Cosmetic surgery doesn't solve all problems,” says Associate Professor Ingela Lundin Kvalem. (Photo: UiO)
This is both before and after the surgery, which suggests that the plastic surgery does little to alleviate mental health problems. What’s more, some of the symptoms of poor mental health are on average even worse after the operation.
“It seems those who get cosmetic surgery have more problems than others,” says Associate Professor Ingela Lundin Kvalem, a co-author of the study. “And after the surgeries, their symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and excessive alcohol consumption have increased.”
Kvalem explains that these women do not have a lower self-image than others in the first place – their decision to undergo cosmetic surgery might be an attempt to deal with other problems they have in their lives.
Getting plastic surgery to improve one’s appearance might seem a quick and efficient remedy, but when their lives fail to improve, their mental health problems might worsen – perhaps because of the disappointment.
“Cosmetic surgery doesn't solve all problems,” she says. “It's a quick fix of body parts they're dissatisfied with, but the effects aren't as far-reaching as some people seem to expect.”
A comprehensive study
The study is different from most research on cosmetic surgery. The researchers used data from a survey of thousands of school children between the ages 12-19 years and followed them up with additional questions, two, seven and 13 years later.
The study’s design made it possible to measure the respondents' mental health years before some of the adolescents reported to have undergone plastic surgery. The mental health of these women was also assessed after the surgery was completed.
Larger breasts, shorter lives
The uniqueness of the study makes it difficult to compare with previous research, but there is some support for their controversial findings.
In a 2003 study, Finnish researchers looked at causes of death among women with breast implants and found that there was an excess of suicide in their sample.
“People met the results of the Finnish study with disbelief,” says Kvalem. “But it turns out that the researchers were onto something.”
Most girls are pleased with the results
Women who undergo cosmetic surgery are usually very pleased with the results:
“Girls who enlarge their breasts, for instance, tend to think that this area of their body has become more attractive,” she says.
This is generally the case: women rate their amended body parts higher, post-surgery – but Kvalem says that they are not more satisfied with their overall appearance.
Perhaps this is not too different from how people enjoy a payrise – they quickly grow accustomed to their new and improved situation. Women with cosmetic improvements might be happy with the results, but ultimately, they do not rate their own mirror image any better than they used to.
“Cosmetic surgery has a minimal effect on people's self-image,” says Kvalem. “It's OK to change what you're dissatisfied with, but life is not necessarily going to get better.”
Drills, needles, and pain, oh my! Coping with dental anxiety – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing
For many people, going to the dentist is an unpleasant but manageable experience. For others, just the thought of going to the dentist causes severe anxiety, leading them to delay or avoid dental treatment. Unfortunately, this behavior can spiral into a vicious cycle of dental pain, health problems, worse anxiety, and more complex and costly dental procedures.
Dental anxiety and phobia
It’s very common for people to fear going to the dentist. When dental fear is severe and leads people to delay or cancel treatment, these individuals may meet criteria for dental phobia or odontophobia, which is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition as a type of phobia.
There are many different reasons for and triggers of dental anxiety. For some, they have had a previous traumatic experience; for others, they are extremely afraid of needles.
Because the origin of fear can vary from patient to patient, it is critical that you identify your fears and share this with your dentist or another health care professional.
If you experience dental anxiety or phobia, here are some tips to ensure you maintain your oral health and receive comfortable dental care.
Prevention and the mouth-body connection
The best way to avoid complex dental procedures and pain is to regularly visit your dentist. Not only will your dentist diagnose problems and help you prevent future issues, but he or she will also help manage your oral health as part of your general health.
Your mouth is the gateway to your body. For example, people with type 2 diabetes are more ly to have periodontitis, a type of bone and gum disease, which could lead to tooth loss.
In fact, studies have shown that controlling diabetes can help control gum and bone health, and vice versa.
Many people fear the dentist because they are afraid of pain. There are several ways to manage this during and after dental treatment. Most commonly, dentists will use topical and local anesthesia.
Topical anesthesia is a numbing gel that can help ease the insertion of a thin needle used to deliver local anesthesia.
The local anesthesia will take effect within minutes, typically last for several hours, and numbs just the area that your dentist needs to complete the procedure.
Furthermore, depending on the type of procedure, your dentist may advise one or more of the following to minimize pain and swelling after your visit: ice, oral rinses, over-the-counter pain medication (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen), or prescription medication. Following these directions is critical to your recovery.
It is highly encouraged that you explore a combination of the following options to reduce dental anxiety prior to considering medications. Relaxation exercises such as focused breathing and meditation can successfully slow your heart rate and put you at ease.
Many people find bringing distractions to the dental chair to be effective. Examples include headphones for music or podcasts, and a stress relief ball that can be squeezed with your hands to release tension during the procedure.
Additionally, some patients find comfort in bringing a friend or family member to the appointment. Another approach, cognitive behavioral therapy (which is also used for other forms of phobias), aims to change both negative thoughts and actions.
Consult your dentist or another health care professional to find out what option is best for you.
Medications to reduce dental anxiety
There are several ways that your dentist can help reduce your anxiety with medications through different levels of sedation. Your dentist may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, such as diazepam (Valium), that you can take one hour before a scheduled dental visit.
Your dentist may also recommend conscious sedation, such as nitrous oxide (or “laughing gas”), which can help calm nerves. You will still have control over your bodily functions, and this medication is applied only during the procedure.
Lastly, general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep sleep, may be recommended for more invasive surgeries of the jaw, or for those with special needs or severe anxiety that prevents routine care from being possible.
Some of these options may not be advised depending on your medical health, so be sure to tell your dentist about your health conditions and medications.
Ultimately, managing your dental anxiety will involve a combination of the above options. Talk with your dentist and explain exactly what makes you nervous about the visit.
Your dentist will do a careful review of your medical history in order to make safe recommendations while considering your overall health. And lastly, visit your dentist regularly even if you are not in dental pain.
This is the best way to prevent painful experiences and more complex and costly procedures.