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Depression after a Hysterectomy: What Should I Do?

Every year, countless women undergo hysterectomies, and the physical and psychological impacts can often lead to depression, an illness that can lower a woman's quality of life. There are a number of risk factors that can increase a woman's chances of developing post-hysterectomy depression, but fortunately, there are also ways to deal with it. Keep reading to find out more about the link between this operation and depression as well as ways you can deal with it.

Depression after a Hysterectomy: What Should I Do?

What Is a Hysterectomy?

This is an operation that involves some or all of a woman's reproductive organs being removed. The most common type is total hysterectomy, whereby just the womb and cervix are removed, while the fallopian tubes and ovaries are left intact. However, the most extreme operation is a radical hysterectomy, and this means that nearly the whole system is removed: uterus, fallopian tubes, part of the vagina, ovaries, lymph glands, and fatty tissue. However, this is normally only in response to life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. Apart from cancer, other reasons for having a hysterectomy are fibroids and endometriosis.

Risk of Depression

The risk of depression with hysterectomies rises if women have not already been through menopause. This is probably because the sudden hormone changes in the body are more pronounced, so the body has not yet grown accustomed. However, as an entire group, the average chance of developing depression after this surgery is around 50%. A few of the known reasons for hysterectomy-related depression are the sudden drop in levels of estrogen, a history of mental illness, and insufficient psychological preparation for the operation.

What Should I Do?

To lower the chances of developing depression after a hysterectomy, or to manage the current depression, there are a few self-help remedies that can be incorporated into your life:

Get plenty of sleep

Let your body heal by getting lots of refreshing sleep. Too little sleep can exacerbate depression by causing irrational thoughts, which can feed into a cycle of negativity, lowering mood. Simple ways to try and promote good sleeping patterns are to keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and get to bed at the same time every night.

Regular exercise

How you feel after surgery and the advice of your doctor will determine how much physical activity you can do at first, but it is best to get at least some - even if this is just going for a walk. As you become fitter, the length and intensity of exercise can gradually be increased. Physical activity helps keep depression at bay by encouraging the release of the natural mood enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain.

Rhythmic breathing

This can help bring down stress levels and reduce anxious thoughts by decreasing blood pressure, pulse, and rate of respiration. Take a few minutes every day to close your eyes concentrate on your breathing, focusing only on the body's natural relaxation response.

Depression after a hysterectomy is common, so it should be anticipated and dealt with as soon as possible. Try to incorporate depression-reducing techniques before the surgery if possible in order to prepare your body. If it is too late for that, it is still worth altering your lifestyle slightly after the operation and making sure you see your doctor as soon as you notice signs and symptoms. Read more about the best ways to treat depression naturally.

Depression and Anxiety during Perimenopause

Anxiety and depression can become serious medical conditions and they widely impact women, including during menopause.

Depression and Anxiety during Menopause

Anxiety and depression impact many menopausal women each year. Click here to read about the causes of these mental health disorders and how to treat them.

Menopausal Depression and Supplements

Many women going through menopause suffer from depression. However, depression should not be an accepted part of menopause.

Sources:
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  • Jawor, M. et al. (2001). [Anxiety-depressive disorder in women after hysterectomy. Own study]. Psychiatria polska, 35(5), 771-780. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11842609
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Procedure overview: What is a hysterectomy? Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/gynecology/hysterectomy_procedure_92,P07777/
  • Lee, J.R. (1996). What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books.
  • National Health Service UK. (2014). Hysterectomy. Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hysterectomy/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  • Northrup, C. (2006). The Wisdom of Menopause. New York: Bantam Dell.
  • Thacker, H.L. (2009). The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. New York: Kaplan Publishing.