Due to my multiple chronic illnesses, I recently had to have a mediport placed. For those of you who aren’t sure what that is, it’s an access placed in your chest that goes directly to your heart to allow the patient to not have to have their veins get damaged from frequent treatments or blood draws. Because I don’t get numb from the medication they usually use with local anesthesia for this procedure, had to do it under general anisthesia instead.
When I got home after the mediport placement, I was sitting on the couch and started sobbing for no reason at all. I felt absolutely awful and didn’t know why. After thinking about it for a while, I suspected that the anesthesia might be involved, so I googled it. Surely enough, there were many results discussing depression as a common side effect of anesthesia.
Side effects from the anesthesia were barely discussed with me, and depression was not mentioned to me at all, nor was it in my paperwork. While they knew that I have a history of multiple mental health disorders (including severe depression), they still didn’t mention it to me.
While knowing all of the possible side effects may not seem that important, I really should’ve been informed of them prior to the procedure. If I had known in advance that increased depression was likely, I would’ve planned things differently. I would’ve had someone stay with me or stayed with someone else (I’m aware now that you’re not supposed to be alone after anesthesia, but they didn’t tell me until immediately before my procedure and they’d already locked up my valuables, including my phone, so I wasn’t able to contact anyone). I would’ve scheduled extra therapist appointments in advance. I would’ve taken off an extra day of work instead of having to call out at the last second.
Don’t get me wrong, the healthcare team I had was amazing. They were very understanding and patient with my anxiety and mental health struggles, and did their best to accommodate for me. But this particular issue isn’t one that’s commonly known, because most healthcare providers don’t inform their patients of it. That needs to change, and it can’t change if people don’t start talking about it. The difficulty comes in with the fact that most people aren’t aware of it. Since you’re reading this article, you’re aware of it now.
So, start being the change. When you know that a loved one is going to be under anesthesia, warn them that depression is a possible side effect. Having that information in advance could help them more than you know.