Post Hysterectomy Depression Symptoms

11 Hidden Post Hysterectomy Depression Symptoms

Writen By: Sadia Mirza
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: November 19, 2023

Many of you may be reading the word ‘Hysterectomy’ for the first time. Let me tell you that this is a major surgical procedure to remove a woman’s womb(uterus) and it can have a great effect on a woman’s emotional and physical health. Women experience a range of emotions after this surgery, like sadness and anger but the one that deserves more attention is post-hysterectomy depression. It is a common and often overlooked condition. Post Hysterectomy Depression symptoms should be examined in women who have gone through this surgery to help them overcome this condition.

Depression after hysterectomy is a real phenomenon that many women experience after surgery but only a few of them can recognize it. It’s crucial to shed light on this topic and provide support and understanding for those going through it. Recognizing and addressing the post hysterectomy depression symptoms is crucial for a healthy recovery.

This blog aims to delve deeper into depression after total hysterectomy and its symptoms. We will explore the signs to look out for and provide you with valuable insights, risk factors, and treatment to navigate this challenging period with self-care and compassion. Also, don’t forget to check out the self-help books by the end of this blog post.

What is a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy can be defined as the procedure of removing the uterus through surgery due to conditions that affect the uterus, such as fibroids, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, and uterine or cervical cancer.

According to research, approximately 500,000 hysterectomies are performed annually, making it the second most common surgery for women in the United States after cesarean sections.  

For some women, a hysterectomy is the only way to help them with their condition and there are many reasons for undergoing a hysterectomy, which include:

  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition that is caused when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside the uterus. It can cause heavy bleeding, pain, and infertility, and needs a hysterectomy to get rid of this.
  • Uterine Fibroids: This is a non-cancerous tumor that grows in and around the uterus. They may also develop in the cervix, fallopian tubes, and tissues near the uterus and can cause pain, heavy bleeding, and other symptoms. Hysterectomy can help overcome uterine fibroids.
  • Prolonged or Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: If a woman is having heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding, then a hysterectomy procedure is needed to get rid of that and stop bleeding.
  • Uterine Prolapse: When the uterus weakens and falls into the vagina, uterine prolapse occurs, and it can be treated by hysterectomy.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: It is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs, and it can damage the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The patient has to undergo a hysterectomy to get rid of this infection.
  • Uterine or Cervical Cancer: Uterine cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the uterus develop out of control, while cervical cancer develops in the cells of the cervix. Hysterectomy is the best treatment option for both of these cancers.

Physical Changes After A Hysterectomy

Many physical changes develop when you go through a hysterectomy, as it is a procedure that disturbs you physically as well as emotionally.

  1. No menstruation and vaginal dryness
  2. hot flashes, and night sweats
  3. Changes in body shape and weight
  4. increased frequency of urination and constipation
  5. discomfort during intercourse, and a decrease in libido
  6. increased risk of osteoporosis and loss of bone density
  7. raise the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases
  8. One may experience no appetite after hysterectomy

Emotional Changes After A Hysterectomy

Many women struggle with surprising and unexpected emotions after their hysterectomy. Knowledge about these changes that occur in your body is necessary to know before undergoing a hysterectomy so you can tackle these emotional battles. Many people think that only the loss of ovaries causes emotional disturbance in women but this is untrue as you are still going to feel depression after hysterectomy with the ovaries intact.

  • You may feel like a huge loss emotionally, especially if you are too young, due to the end of your fertility and femininity post-hysterectomy.
  • The sudden occurrence of menopause symptoms after hysterectomy can lead to mood swings, crying spells, and irritability.
  • If you do not have any other alternative option besides having a hysterectomy, then you will feel angry due to your lack of control.
  • You may experience insomnia and not be able to sleep properly after this surgery.

Post-Hysterectomy Depression

Post-hysterectomy depression (PHD) is a kind of depression that develops after the procedure of hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can be emotional and not all women are prepared for it. 

A research study shows that hysterectomy may lead to depression in women due to the loss of an important organ, changes in a woman’s body image and sexuality, hormonal changes, and the emotional impact of the surgery. 

Another research study suggests that women with a hysterectomy have a higher risk of depression compared to women who never had a hysterectomy.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be prevalent after hysterectomy surgery. It is important to be aware of the risks that come with a hysterectomy and seek help.

Common Post Hysterectomy Depression Symptoms

Hysterectomy can lead to many emotional changes in your body, especially depression.  The immediate signs of menopause after hysterectomy can be overwhelming. These post hysterectomy depression symptoms need attention and sometimes medical help.

1. Overwhelming sadness and grief

You may feel sad or down most of the day and nearly every day. It will become harder for you to manage your feelings and to overcome the pangs of sadness and grief. For example, you will be feeling sad due to losing your fertility and ability to give birth because the uterus is the feminine organ of the female body and you will feel sad due to its removal.

2. Feelings of loss or emptiness

As hysterectomy results in an end to your childbearing capability, this may feel like a huge loss and you will feel empty inside. This loss can be especially experienced by young women who are not mentally ready for such an early loss of fertility. For instance, you may look at other women who can give birth and you will compare yourself with them. This may cause feelings of loss and emptiness.

3. Anxiety about body changes and self-image

As the uterus is the organ that represents femininity and fertility, you will feel anxious and depressed about its loss, and you will tend to develop a negative self-image. The surgical menopause depression is real and you should pay attention to it.

A research study published in 2012 found that women who had a hysterectomy reported significantly worse body image, self-esteem, and marital adjustment than healthy women. So it is true that hysterectomy is a threat to women’s psychological well-being.

4. Social withdrawal

One of the Post hysterectomy depression symptoms is social withdrawal and isolation. You will see your personality change after hysterectomy. As a hysterectomy has negative effects on your self-esteem and body image, you may avoid social gatherings and isolate yourself as feelings of depression and sadness overwhelm you.

For example, you may be avoiding social gatherings due to the embarrassment of missing an important feminine organ. Feeling incomplete when around others with children or discussing motherhood can trigger reminders of being unable to bear children.This sense of difference may lead to isolation and withdrawal from social connections.

5. Changes in daily activities and routines

Hysterectomy depression can affect daily function and the routine of your life. You will feel a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you enjoyed before. You may have been going out with friends, taking care of your husband and kids, and doing housework before the surgery, but following the procedure, you will feel as though you do not have the same amount of energy. 

This may be brought on by sadness, trouble managing your pain, or a lack of motivation to do anything following surgery.

6. Fatigue and lack of energy

It is possible that you feel worn out, drained, and incapable of doing anything. Depression following a hysterectomy leaves you exhausted and feeble. Sometimes you feel too exhausted to even do things that are necessary for your healing, such as therapy and exercises. Even simple things like eating and drinking water can feel like hard work.

7. Sleep disturbances

It is possible that you will have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, and your regular sleep schedule will be severely disrupted. This could be due to the pain you are experiencing at the surgical area or to your endless overthinking about how inadequate you are, how helpless you are, and how important an organ you have lost. 

8.Weight changes

When someone is under stress, they may begin to overeat or experience an extremely low appetite, which can lead to both decreased and increased weight. These changes in weight make many women anxious about their figures, further exacerbating the symptoms of depression.

9. Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are a common symptom of post-hysterectomy depression, which makes you feel as though your life has come to an end and that nothing remains. It may cause you to feel as though you are not worth living and inspire you to take your own life. You might believe that there is a way to escape your troubles and that death is the answer to all of your issues because you feel hopeless that things will ever return to normal in your life.

10. Difficulty in Concentrating

Post hysterectomy depression symptoms come in many forms and finding it difficult to concentrate and focus while doing a task is one of them. Your decision-making power also gets affected. For example, depression following a hysterectomy may make it difficult for the patient to concentrate on a task because of pain, frustration, and a poor mood.

11. Feeling Emotionally Numb

One of the post-hysterectomy depression symptoms is feeling emotionally numb to one’s emotions and also cut off from the emotions of others. It is like going through the motions without truly connecting with the world. It’s as if there’s a thick veil between you and your emotions, making things that once brought joy feel distant. This emotional detachment can strain relationships, making it hard to deeply connect with others or even with your own feelings.

Risk Factors for Post-Hysterectomy Depression

Post Hysterectomy depression is a serious condition that can affect women after going through this procedure. It is a great risk factor for depression and it’s important to be aware of the risk factors so you can take steps to protect yourself and seek help.

1. Personal history of mental health issues

Women who have a history of pre-existing mental health conditions are at an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression after hysterectomy.

2. Lack of social support

Women who don’t get support from their family and friends are more likely to get hysterectomy depression. If the people around you don’t understand you and you don’t get emotional support from them, then you are at great risk of developing depression and other mental health issues.

3. Hormonal changes and their impact on mood

Your estrogen and progesterone levels can suddenly drop after a hysterectomy and it can cause mood swings and other symptoms of depression.

4. Surgical Factors

The surgery of hysterectomy and the reactions to anesthesia can be traumatic both physically and emotionally. 

A study published in 2016 found that surgeries carry a higher risk of depression after the patient has gone through the procedure.

5. Body Image

Hysterectomy can lead to changes in body image and sexual function, which can be distressing for many women and can cause depression.

6. Life Stressors

Women who are already facing major life issues such as job loss, illness, and divorce are at a greater risk of developing PHD. 

7. Removal Of the Ovaries

Women whose ovaries are removed during hysterectomy (oophorectomy) are more likely to experience depression than women whose ovaries are not removed. This is because the ovaries release hormones that improve mood and increase sexual function.

8. Unplanned Hysterectomy

Unplanned hysterectomies such as due to an emergency can also develop depression among women who go through this procedure.

Coping Strategies and Treatment

We read above about the post hysterectomy depression symptoms and now we are going towards the coping strategies and treatments. Let’s discuss some of the tips and coping mechanisms below for post-hysterectomy depression.

  • Talk to your doctor about your risk factors before going to hysterectomy surgery. Tell your concerns to the doctor about any of the risks you are going to have post-hysterectomy so they can develop a plan to reduce your risk. 
  • Get support from your family and friends by talking to them about your depression and sadness. Talk about how you feel.
  • Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet rich in proteins, fiber, green leafy vegetables, and calcium. Take low-fat foods like boiled chicken, plain rice, and yogurt, and try to avoid a heavy diet that can make your stomach upset. Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
  • You can seek help from a mental health professional or counselor. They can help you manage your symptoms and develop coping mechanisms. They may treat you with hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy changes your thinking pattern so it will be beneficial for the treatment of your depression.
  • Small activities of self-love like getting a new dress, going out with friends, or having a spa day can help you cope with this depression.
  • Make your hormones balanced with bio-identical hormones, as it will help in balancing your estrogen and progesterone and help you overcome your depression. You can consult with your doctor because they can give you medications for your hormonal level according to your condition.
  • For faster healing, regular exercise can be beneficial, but only in a milder form that does not require excessive bending and straining of the muscles surrounding the uterus. Exercises that are too intense may damage your stitches and the area where the surgery is being done.

After your hysterectomy, if your doctor approves, you can perform these five exercises.

You can also watch this video on YouTube for post-hysterectomy recovery exercises.

  • You should get enough sleep for quicker recovery but as post hysterectomy depression symptoms include disrupted sleep you can practice sleep hygiene for a restful night’s sleep. If sleep disturbance is due to the pain you feel, there are many sleeping positions that you can choose to sleep in, such as lying on your back and lying on your side. If you still have difficulty sleeping due to pain, you can take painkillers after consulting your doctor. 
  • If you feel tired and weakness in your body, taking supplements such as folic acid, ferrous sulfate, and osnate D can help boost your immunity, maintain your blood levels, and promote overall healing. 

Note: Take all the medications after consulting with your doctor.

Self-help Books

There are many self-help books available that can help you overcome the depression that you develop after a hysterectomy.

1. Health, Happiness and Hormones

This book is about a woman’s journey to regain her health and happiness after a hysterectomy. It can help readers by providing insights into the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of hysterectomy, as well as advice on how to cope with these effects and make lifestyle changes that can promote healing and balance.

2. GoodBye Uterus

It’s a great activity book for hysterectomy patients, as it will keep you busy and help motivate you to recover quickly. It’s a coloring book, plus some funny and related quotes are also written to cheer you up.

3. Hysterectomy Support and Shared Experiences: Our Little Hysterectomy Handbook!

This book by Kelly Hallet gives practical ideas and tips to recover from hysterectomy and you will also get advice from real hysterectomy experience. 

4.  Hysterectomy Journal

This is a Hysterectomy Journal by Jessica L Siler. This journal provides a safe space for you to express your emotions, track your recovery progress, and celebrate milestones along your hysterectomy healing process. 

5. Hysterectomy and you: Navigating the Challenges of a Uterus Removal

This is a book by Ethan D. Anderson.  This book will help you understand and navigate every facet of the procedure, its preparation and recovery, its implications, and what lies beyond.

Conclusion

We hope that this blog post has helped you in understanding post hysterectomy depression symptoms that are often overlooked. We also talked about the risk factors relating to hysterectomy and also gave you tips to cope with it. But now it’s your responsibility to follow this and help yourself.

 It is important for anyone going through anxiety and depression after total hysterectomy to be aware of the emotional challenges that may arise. Remember your mental health matters and if you are going through this difficult phase, do anything that can help you to recover by taking help of your loved ones, taking care of yourself, and seeking professional help when needed.

FAQ’s 

How does life change after a hysterectomy?

Your life changes in so many ways after a hysterectomy. You will feel changes in yourself physically as well as emotionally. Physical changes include menopause, frequent urination, vaginal dryness, hormonal imbalance, increase in weight, constipation, feeling discomfort during intercourse, a decrease in libido, and a change in vaginal lubrication. Emotional changes include depression, sadness, anxiety, mood swings, loss of interest in things that you like to do before, suicidal thoughts, and feelings of loss and emptiness due to uterus removal.

What is the difference between post-hysterectomy syndrome and post-hysterectomy depression?

Post-hysterectomy syndrome is a broader term that includes a wide range of symptoms that women may experience after having a hysterectomy, such as pain, fatigue, hot flashes, weight gain, depression, anxiety, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido.

Post-hysterectomy depression is a specific type that is described by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and loss of interest in past activities. It is related to mental health.

PHS is an umbrella term for all of the different symptoms that can occur after a hysterectomy, while PHD is one specific symptom of PHS.

Can ovarian cysts cause depression?

Yes, ovarian cysts cause depression as the hormonal imbalance caused by ovarian cysts can lead to mood swings, irritability, sadness, and depression.

One research published in 2023 indicates the direct relation between ovarian cysts and depression. 

What are post-oophorectomy symptoms?

Post-oophorectomy symptoms can vary depending on whether you have had a unilateral oophorectomy (removal of one ovary) or a bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries). If you have had a bilateral oophorectomy, you will experience menopause immediately, even if you are younger. This is because the ovaries release the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are important for menstruation and reproduction.

Some common post-oophorectomy symptoms include:

  • Hot flashes, Night sweats, Vaginal dryness, Mood swings, Difficulty sleeping, Decreased sex drive, Weight gain, Bone loss, Increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

While other possible post-oophorectomy symptoms include:

  • Pelvic Pain, Fatigue, Headaches, Difficulty concentrating, Hair loss, Joint pain, and changes in skin texture.

Does a hysterectomy change your personality?

Hysterectomy doesn’t change your personality but it can lead you to disorders that can change and cope with. Just like depression, sadness, and anxiety, these are the conditions that you encounter after a hysterectomy but can tackle them with proper process and help. You will feel emotional changes in your body after hysterectomy but not your personality changes.