Undergoing surgery is always scary, no matter what the surgery is, and it’s never something that should be shrugged off. Pre-surgery anxiety is real, causing many individuals to experience sleepless nights, increased blood pressure, and even completely back out if the surgery is elective.
One of the ways that these individuals try to alleviate their anxieties, however, is by researching what is going to happen during the operation. This is a way to help the brain understand what is essentially “the unknown”.
If the brain doesn’t understand something – and that something is going to directly influence the individual’s life – then it breaks into a fight-or-flight response, increasing our heart rate, tensing the muscles, increasing stress hormones, and putting us on high alert.
So is researching the surgery effective in dealing with this response? Or is it actually a further detriment? We’re going to look into that below:
The Benefits Of Research
Because the brain likes to imagine things, the process of surgery can become increasingly troublesome if it’s kept in the void. This is because, as the brain attempts to fill in the gaps during the surgery, it subsequently imagines what will happen after – which is what causes negative mindsets to run wild.
Embracing reality, in this way, can be an effective method to calm the mind and avoid it filling in those gaps. Even something as simple as understanding the tools involved, the use of the surgical retractor, the process of incision, can all take up the focus of the mind and avoid any negative, conjured scenes being played out.
The Negatives Of Research
For more intense surgeries, however, researching what can happen can be detrimental. The internet has a vast amount of information, after all, and it can be increasingly hard to get a clear picture. This is especially true when considering how little of the information is coming from professionals in healthcare, but rather the individuals who have experienced the surgery, or people claiming to be experts.
Not only this, but individuals who have undergone surgeries that have gone wrong are more likely to post about it online than individuals who have had a successful, uneventful surgery. With crossed information out there, the mind can grow even more confused, and this will only drive an individual’s stress levels higher.
What You Should Do
The best thing that people suffering from pre-surgery anxiety can do is speak with their doctors face-to-face. You should never feel uncomfortable to sit down and talk things through. In fact, asking questions to the people who are going to be performing your surgery helps to localise what is happening, and subsequently ground it in reality.
This means you are getting the same potential benefits of online research, but attributed specifically to you and your situation – which helps to avoid the potential for negatives.Individuals who are experiencing anxiety can also try a variety of breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and meditation – all of which have been proven to de-stress the mind and create a state of positivity and calmness.