How can ostomy surgery affect mental health?

Clinical Advisor

From A Bigger Life

When you get a new stoma formed there are various factors that impact on how you recover from a physical, mental and emotional level. Everyone is different and surgery can affect everyone in different ways.

If you have a history of mental illness before you have stoma forming surgery, you are at greater risk of developing some further complications in relation to your mental health. It is important to be be aware of your past medical history and to make other people aware of that aswell.

Factors that influence your mental health

Some other factors would be whether you have had your surgery done as an emergency or as an elective procedure. An emergency procedure means that you won’t have been prepared and it would have been a complete shock to your body. Elective means you would have had an opportunity to speak to a Stoma Care Nurse and perhaps somebody else that is living with a stoma, therefore you are alot more prepared.

People liken coming home with a stoma to bringing home a new baby in that it’s completely new to you and that you have to learn your way. That is exactly the same when you come home with a stoma, no two people will be able to cope and manage their stoma exactly the same way, it is very much a learning curve.

Who can help?

It is so important if you are feeling fragile from a mental point of view that you talk to somebody, that can be somebody within the family but for many people that can be a little bit to close because they are aware they don’t want their family members to be distressed about how you are actually feeling and coping. That is what your Stoma Care Nurse is there for, they will see you and review you as often as you need to if you are not coping well. Your GP is another good point of contact. If this doesn’t help there are psychologists that you can be referred to but it is important that the first step that you take is to admit to someone that you aren’t coping.

For the majority of people the first three months after surgery are tough, once you start to recover physically then the mental impact improves when you gain your strength.

If you are still struggling to accept your stoma and need some help, please do drop us an email to [email protected].

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