Stomach pains cause anxious moments for surgery patient

Consult a Counsellor: June

Question: A few months ago I had a medical emergency that required surgery. I recovered well and everything is fine. The problem is that I am having huge anxiety now every time I feel a pain or any kind of upset stomach. This seems to almost be getting worse and I can convince myself in these times that I have a terminal illness. I know this is silly but I can’t make it stop. Do you have any ideas for me?

Anxiety and/or depression following medical procedures such as surgery is very common.

There are many reasons why our brains may perceive disease or injury, and the medical interventions that treat them, as a threat. These include damage to our body, potential threat to our lives, loss of ability, and loss of control over ourselves during surgery or other treatments.

We can reason with our brains and tell ourselves that the surgery or treatment worked and that we are now okay, but our brains remain on alert for any sign of a similar threat.

The fact that you are experiencing anxiety when a pain or digestive system upset occurs means that your brain’s alarm system is working well. It is alerting you to the possibility of a threat to your health. The problem is that our alarm systems are all-or-nothing affairs, much like real alarm clocks. Once set they will continue to go off when the event that they have been set for occurs.

The good news is that, like an alarm clock, our alarm systems can be re-set.

The bad news is that re-setting our alarm systems is a lot more work than turning off the alarm setting on a clock.

We need to learn and use strategies for dealing with the thoughts, feelings and physical aspects associated with the anxiety that occurs when we become alarmed. Often we need some help with this, particularly when it has been going on for a long time and is interfering in our day-to-day lives.

Given that you are noticing that your anxiety is not resolving after several months it may be time for you to consider speaking with a professional trained in treating anxiety. In the meantime, talking with someone who has experienced the same type of surgery as you have and is now healthy may help. It will also be helpful to practice relaxation routines and get regular exercise.

I hope this gets better for you soon.

To ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail  info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead, Bruce Muir, Sara-Lynn Kang and Carolyn Howard at Pacific Therapy & Consulting inc.

 

Just Posted

Annual labyrinth walk welcomes the festive celebration of lights season

Take a break from the commercial activity of the holiday season and… Continue reading

Strong winds to hit B.C.’s south coast

Western regions may see winds of up to 80 km/hr

Courtenay family looking for help after baby born two months premature

A GoFundMe page has been set up as a difficult pregnancy and a long stay in Victoria have left the family struggling to get by

Land & Sea Brewing Company opens its doors in Comox

Managing director says the brewery will be a compliment to the Valley’s craft beer scene

‘Are we going to play?’ Alberta boy with rare illness no big deal for classmates

Porter Stanley is one of 30 people in the world to be diagnosed with Beare-Stevenson syndrome, a craniofacial disorder.

Man rescued from sinking boat off the coast of Vancouver Island

Mayday call came into Coast Guard saying vessel had taken on water, BC Ferries dispatched to scene

Publication ban on name of girl killed in Abbotsford school lifted

Reimer’s family had supported an application by Black Press to lift ban

B.C. securities regulator probes ‘most expansive’ alleged trading scheme in its history

Liht Cannabis Corp states it’s doing internal investigation, welcomes BC Securities Commission probe

Air passenger rights: 6 things about what the Liberals are offering

For 3- to 6-hour delays, compensation is $400. Between 6 and 9 hours, $700. Over 9 hours is $1,000

Descoteau’s mother, girlfriend reflect on tribulations of murder trial in Island city

Friends a strong support system in getting through testimony details

RCMP, civilian vehicles rammed in North Okanagan incident

Police attempt to stop truck near Enderby, thought to be tied to alleged Salmon Arm armed robbery

New biker gang with ties to Hells Angels crops up in Lower Mainland

The Street Reapers were formed late last year and have been seen in Fort Langley.

Man exposes himself to woman waiting for bus in Campbell River

Police responded to a complaint that a male had exposed himself to… Continue reading

Most Read