Depressed After Tonsillectomy? You are not alone

Depression After Tonsillectomy

One challenge that many tonsillectomy patients don’t anticipate is depression after surgery. Even people with the sunniest of dispositions may find themselves in a dark place after enduring the hardships of surgery and its recovery. **Before discussing the topic of depression after surgery any further, let me say that if you are under a doctor’s care for depression before surgery, be sure to work with them to plan treatment after surgery. 

Tonsillectomy Recovery- Day 17: Why don’t I feel better?

Tonsillectomy surgery, like almost any other surgery, requires more of your body than normal. The healing process takes energy. After tonsillectomy, eating and sleeping become difficult. This makes the healing process more of a strain. I have tips for both eating and sleeping on other pages. For now I’d like to address the almost inevitable event of depression after surgery.

Feeling depressed after tonsillectomy

Depression After Tonsillectomy

Two weeks of battling pain, not getting enough sleep, taking narcotic pain medicine, and being removed from your normal social interaction can have a profound effect on your mental state. Being prepared for depression after surgery can help you feel better.

Doing your best to stay nourished, get sleep, and stay ahead of pain will all help. I further recommend planning some simple daily activities like a short walk outside, a relaxing bath, a daily television show. These simple activities can get your mind off the discomfort, give you something to look forward to, and give normalcy to an otherwise abnormal time.

Another trick to beating depression after surgery is to record your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Oddly, this seems to release the struggles a bit. I also suggest participating in the online forums and offering others support. As I’ve often said, when you shine a light for others, you also light your own path.

Finally, let people in. Family, friends, health professionals, even co workers have more compassion than you may realize. Let people help. Ask for help in advance- before you have surgery. I personally would be delighted if a friend asked me to run out for Popsicle’s or chewing gum because they’d run out during their tonsillectomy recovery. Help others to help you. You’ll both benefit.

Finally, try to remember that this is temporary. How you are feeling in the midst of your recovery is not how you’ll always feel. Try to imagine the better life you’ll have without the problems the surgery will have corrected. Again, you can read of success stories in my book and on the forum.

Take care,


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67 Comments on "Depressed After Tonsillectomy? You are not alone"

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June 3, 2016 6:44 am

Thank you for this article Greg! It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in feeling really down post tonsillectomy. I’m 33 and am on day 16 of my recovery.
After suffering awful tonsil stones, I’m very blessed to have had a smooth recovery. Undeniably painful of course, but I had no bleeding or infection so was able to focus on pain management and just ‘hanging in there’!
As most people have reported, the pain, discomfort and lack of nutrition/hydration was a big challenge. However I found what worked and did the best I could to get through it. Oh and not being able to talk for 10 days was also tough!
So now I’m back at work and able to drink water without wincing and eating an almost regular diet. You’d think I’d perk right up and be feeling great…but I have been crying a lot today and have been in a depressed state. Out of character for me as I’m usually upbeat and have an amazing life to be grateful for. It wasn’t until my Mum suggested it could be all part of the recovery that I got to googling. And what do you know? Sounds as though this is quite common.
Us tonsillectomy patients really have had a rough few weeks of crappy nutrition, social isolation, had hard core pain killers surging through our bodies and added trauma of severe pain. It does make sense that it has taken its toll.
I’m planning to get my endorphin fix tomorrow by exercising and will go to lunch with friends.
Does anyone else any tips, ideas or experiences with post tonsillectomy depression? Would love to hear x

June 10, 2016 3:29 am

Hi Kay-tee
I am on day12 and last night I cried even though I am feeling loads better, I put it down to it being an extremely traumatic experience. I am 43 and have had major painful operations in my life but this has been the worst ever. It seems strange to feel better but then a bit depressed. I’m back at work in 3 days and hope to put this horrendous experience behind me as well as the vile tonsil stones. I just want to be able to drink a pint of juice without a straw or without the liquid coming down my nose!
Regards Claire x

Jojo c
April 18, 2016 2:53 pm

Hi I had tonsillectomy on 17th February, I was readmitted twice for bleeding, after I lost 4 units it finally stopped for good, however I now find it really difficult to swallow, food gets stuck easily and I have a horrible taste in my mouth. I’m still really tired even though all my bloods are normal now. I went back to work after 7 weeks off and my throat is painful. Anyone else had this?

Julie Jaconelli
April 11, 2016 7:58 pm

Hi there. Today will be a week since my op so think I’m on day 7? Always wondered if I count the day of op or not ha! I am getting to the really fed up stage as every night I wake with terrible burning pain in my tonsil wounds! It seems to be healing but the burning pain is so awful. When will this stop?! I’ve found this website so useful- thanks so much for the info you provide. Anyway had my 2am ice pole and should have my meds and try and sleep! Julie x