Emotional

Adjusting to Your Diagnosis

Recovering from dissection also involves your emotional healing.

The recovery process uses emotional and physical energy.  If you feel upset or emotional in the days and weeks after your diagnosis, don’t worry – this is a perfectly normal reaction which many patients experience.  Many patients report these feelings for up to three months after their dissection and sometimes even longer.  If these feelings persist, a health professional can help you cope with your diagnosis and associated changes in lifestyle.  It is common for people who have had dissection to:

  • Experience mood swings
  • Feel depressed or gloomy
  • Cry easily for no apparent reason
  • Feel afraid, nervous or anxious
  • Feel helpless
  • Feel lonely
  • Lack energy or motivation
  • Get easily frustrated
  • Be irritable or angry
  • Be unable to concentrate
  • Have good days and bad days
  • Feel more emotional or sentimental than normal

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, be sure to contact the hospital social worker on call immediately.

Depression

Depression is common following aortic dissection, with one study noting up to 25% of patients self-reporting new onset depression, and 25% self-reporting new feelings of anxiety.  After a major illness and/or surgery, many patients report feeling fearful of additional complications or frustrated by new lifestyle restrictions.  If you are feeling depressed after your aortic dissection surgery, know that you are not alone.  You should discuss feelings of depression with your doctor.  A mental health professional can help address sadness or anxiety.

To read more about depression and anxiety in dissection patients, click here.

Anxiety

After a life-changing medical event, it is common that you may feel anxiety regarding a recurrence of your illness or fear of returning to your usual activities.  Any persistent feelings of anxiety should be discussed with your doctor or other mental health professional.  Proactively talking with your doctor about signs and symptoms you should watch for and how to respond if you note these changes may help ease some feelings of anxiety.  Also, discussing activity levels, work, and other aspects of your daily life with your doctor may ease some of the fears you have about returning to your pre-dissection lifestyle.

Stress

Stress is a natural response to life-altering events, and is common after major medical emergencies.  How you react to stress can directly affect your health.  You may feel stressed about returning to work, providing for your family, or paying medical bills.  A hospital social worker can help you address financial concerns that could be causing stress.  Additionally, stress associated with changes brought about by your dissection is to be expected.  If you are feeling stressed about returning to your pre-dissection lifestyle, please talk with your doctor about your concerns.

Many books and methods are available to help you control stress.  Healthy ways to deal with stress include performing gentle exercises, such as walking, talking with a friend or loved one, and dedicating time to relaxation.  For more information, ask a health care professional to recommend stress reduction programs in your community, helpful reading materials, or other sources of information.