Just the thought of undergoing surgery can scare off many. If you’re having this apprehension, you’re not alone.
People experience different levels of anxiety – from mild to severe. Usually, mild to moderate levels of anxiety are manageable and considered normal. However, some people suffer from extreme anxiety over invasive medical procedures, also called tomophobia. This is a clinical condition that requires more advanced treatment.
Anxiety may stem from many factors such as bad experiences in the past, baseless misconceptions, unfamiliar environment, and loss of control. But perhaps the main cause of anxiety is the fear of the unknown.
Questions like: What will be the outcome of the procedure? Will there be side effects? Will you recover fast? Will the surgery finally treat the condition? Will you survive the procedure? No one can give you a definite answer to these questions– and this can be frightening.
Just like the fear of medicine or hospitals, surgical fear is extremely common. In fact, most people would prefer medical management rather than surgery. The good news, however, is that there a lot of great ways to manage the fear of invasive procedures.
Here we take a look at six ways to help you get rid of fear and prepare well for an upcoming surgery.
Know more about the procedure
Since fear of the unknown is the main cause of surgery fear, it is important to address this problem. Take time to learn about the procedure. The internet is replete with useful resources that break down medical jargon into more understandable concepts.
Lack of information about a procedure foments fear. Your brain can play tricks on you, creating all sorts of horrible scenarios. By knowing more about the surgery, the less you have to fear. Research more about the procedure so that you’ll know what to expect.
Discuss your fears to your surgeon
Open up with your doctor and feel free to talk about your concerns and fears. For instance, if you or someone you know had a bad experience in the past, your surgeon can help you clear these worries. They have handled numerous surgeries and can give you positive anecdotes. An experienced Seattle plastic surgery specialist emphasized the importance of open communication in allaying patient’s fear.
Your surgeon can provide you with an in-depth explanation and a realistic idea of the outcome. He can also give you advice on what you can do to alleviate your fear. If your level of anxiety warrants medical management, your surgeon can prescribe anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, or refer you to other medical experts.
Listen and follow the pre-operative tips
Instead of worrying, keep yourself pre-occupied with constructive things to prevent your mind from wandering. For example, you can create a checklist of the pre-operative instructions and tips. Accomplish your list during the days leading to the surgery.
Typically, your surgeon will give you instructions on what to do and things to prepare before the surgery. You need to pack several things such as clothes, snacks, documents, essentials, etc. It is also nice to think about some activities you can do right after the procedure and while recuperating. Preparing for the big day is a productive way to get rid of fear.
Trust your surgeon and the medical team
Choosing a surgeon whom you can fully trust is very important. Usually, anxiety stems from the lack of trust in your medical team. It pays to know your surgeon and the members of the medical team. Find out about their education, experience, and training. Ask their previous patients. Knowing their background enables you to put your full trust in them. Remember that you need to fully trust your surgical team as you’ll be entrusting your life to them.
Consider alternative remedies to surgical fear
Alternative medicine, such as massage, acupressure, herbal supplements, yoga, tapping, biofeedback, and hypnosis, can help relieve your pre-surgery anxiety. These non-traditional remedies are known to provide relaxation and stress-relief. It can result in better sleep and a happy disposition. However, before initiating any of these alternative remedies, be sure to consult your surgeon. The procedure might entail some restrictions.
Likewise, you can also engage in activities that can distract your mind off the surgery. In fact, distraction techniques are standard treatment in the management of anxiety. Some activities that can keep you distracted on the day of surgery include reading a book, answering a puzzle, listening to music, taking a bath, going on a walk, etc.
Seek help from your support system
Having someone whom you can share your apprehensions and feelings about the surgery is vital in managing your fear. Ideally, you should have someone with you on surgery day and immediately afterwards. Ask your special someone, family, or friend to come with you during the surgery. Make sure that you can open up with them. Just talking to someone about your feelings and venting out your emotions is enough to allay your anxiety.