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Tips for Mood Swings During Heart Surgery Recovery

Mood swings enter into the recovery picture and they can be very disconcerting. By undergoing open heart surgery, every cell in our body receives a call to arms. Head and heart will need time to realign, because a powerful body shake-up has just occurred.

Here is a composite snapshot on the blues drawn from several patients I?ve interviewed: The first four to six weeks you can expect tears to come for no specific reason. You might wake up in the morning feeling down, even temporarily hopeless. During any day after a positive couple of hours you can expect a reversal. But remember too, the operative word here is temporary. Things will change. You will go back to feeling your true self again. It?s just a matter of time ? and, yes, patience.

In the meantime, what can you do to shift your mood?

I have often found that reviewing what I am grateful for in my life can dissolve tension and negativity. I turn to that activity often and can feel so much better after reminding myself of all my blessings ? my partner in life, my children and their partners in life, our grandchildren, our entire family?s level of good health, the blessed environment in which I live. By simply saying thank you, even out loud as I consciously visualize the abundance in my life, I feel restored and renewed.

What else can be done to avert intermittent depression? If depressive episodes are running you more than you are on top of them, discuss your symptoms with your health care professional. Here are some other diversions and coping strategies:

  1. Take a walk in the fresh air. Force yourself to get some exercise despite lethargy.
  2. Set your mind to finding a good book that really involves you; don?t try too hard to cover ?important? material.
  3. Explore meditation. Try sitting in peaceful solitude, following your breath, even just five minutes a day. Your mind may wander. When it does (and it will), gently bring it back to following your breath.
  4. Go into prayer. Explore the ?faith effect.? A University of Michigan study in the fall 2004 issue of Journal of Health Psychology reports on the ongoing research to identify a mechanism that triggers the ?faith effect? in patients undergoing open-heart surgery. U-M researcher of integrative medicine Amy Ai and her colleagues, who are ?pioneers in the new field of positive psychology, link optimal expectation with faith.?
  5. Watch some comedy that tickles your funny bone ? Comedy Central? Saturday Night Live?
  6. Listen to favorite music.
  7. Bake a cake with a friend (rest when you get tired).
  8. Exchange supportive phone calls with another heart patient. Swapping experiences is especially valuable to put smaller questions to rest.
  9. Sit in the sunshine; take in a view.
  10. Don?t play The Lone Ranger. Ask for help! Call on old friends as well as new ones.
  11. Review your prescription mix with your doctor.
  12. Discuss taking a sleeping remedy or an antidepressant for the short term.
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