Help me help someone important to me!?

Q:A person dear to me had undergone open heart sugery two month ago, he had a small set back last week and had to undergo a minor procedure for liquid around the heart. The problem now is that this person is totally depressed and feels worthless. How can I help? Is this common?
More Answers to “Help me help someone important to me!?
Yes, it is common. He needs to be reassured that he was ‘broken’, but what was wrong is now fixed – and he’s healthier than ever before. Also, anesthesia can be a cause of depression. Ask the doctor about that one. Any trauma to the body causes pain, anxiety, and depression. You need to help your friend keep a positive attitude – that’s 90% of the battle; the other 10% is healing from surgery.
It is fairly normal for a person to feel depressed after heart surgery. They usually have had to face the reality of their own mortality a little more in the face than most of us, and post-operatively they are at least as sick at first, if not worse feeling, than they were prior to the surgery. It’s really a major life upheaval in a lot of ways, physically and emotionally. They often have to make some lifestyle changes, in respect to diet and exercise, which can be very difficult toh handle all at once. Also, where you usually repair fairly rapidly after other surgery, open heart surgery takes months of rehabilitation before they really start to notice improvement in how they feel. Sometimes they wonder why they had it done in the first place, since it doesn’t seem to have made anything better so far as they can see. Aside from encouragement, though kind words are always good- try to do something on the more practical side. If your friend is ready to go for a short walk, go with them. Do some of the exercises with them. Prepare a heart healthy meal for them, which will taste good and include some “treats” which they can have. To often, the post op diet is fairly bland and repetitive, since they have to radically restrict things like salt and fats. A depressing diet that leaves you facing three unimaginative meals a day gets to anybody. Help your friend explore activities or hobbies they can enjoy now, and share the experience. Treat them to a day at a spa, where they can be pampered and petted, and generally fussed over. Constantly remind them that they are still in the recovery stage of things, and the feelings, while normal, will pass as they regain their previous levels of activities and begin to feel more normal again. If there are regular activities that he enjoyed previously, see how many of those things he can get back into. The sooner he can get re-involved in his normal life activities, the sooner this should pass. It is all normal, but if you think it has reached a level where there is concern for your friend, by all means mention the matter with his doctors confidentially. Doctors don’t always pick up on the signs of a depression because they see us rather infrequently and for only a short period of time. It’s the people closest to us that are more in tune and able to detect a problem before it really becomes something major. The doctor can then advise you best on what might be appropriate to do. Meantime, be encouraging, and be supportive for your friend, and remind him that you have plans for when he is up and about again, so you expect him to improve. Your friend will improve much quicker if he has support and a reason to get better.My father had open heart surgery and a quadruple bypass. He also went through this stage, and he gradually improved over the next few months as his overall health and stamina returned. In the meantime he had his good and bad days, and I was not very envious of my mother for having him around full time on some of those more difficult days. Fortunately he did get back to his old self, and even learned to be a bit philosophical about the experience. He’d still prefer a full fry up for breakfast instead of the wholegrain hot cereal- but he’s learned to have a sense of humor about it all. He credits my mother’s support as the biggest reason for his recovery.
Depression after such an invasive surgery is not unusual. It happened to my mother. My best suggestion is to get this person involved in fun, leisure activities. Reading my webpage on depression might give you some other ideas as well:
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