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,


59 thoughts on “Depressed After Tonsillectomy? You are not alone

  1. I’m 19 years old and can vouch for this surgery being the most uncomfortable experience of my life. I was mentally prepared for an unpleasant experience but couldn’t have expected such discomfort when eating, sleeping, even breathing. However, my recovery has been more painful than most I would assume because after surgery I also contracted pneumonia which my doctor blames on my acute asthma. It’s made me have to cough and when you pair that with a tonsillectomy you get all kinds of extra blood and pain.
    My uvula swelled to be about the size of a grape, making every swallow I had after surgery feel like I’m trying to swallow, well, a whole grape.
    The medication gas affected my energy, mood, mindset, and sleep patterns. At first I was on anti-inflammatory steroids to help with swelling in addition to liquid hydrocodone and at first I felt on top of the world emotionally for the first week but now entering the second week I have been in a state of depression that I can’t shake. It’s very odd for someone that hasn’t been depressed before and I know the medication is somewhat to blame. Also I have such weird vivid dreams that I credit to the medication as well. I’m currently on post op day 12 and it’s still painful to swallow and I’ve bled multiple times that have clotted and ceased to bleed. I’m getting past the depression by reminding myself that it’s the medication and the fact that I have been cooped up in my house for nearly 2 weeks without anything really entertaining to do. If you’re struggling with any if these problems just keep in mind it will be okay and that all of us recovering from tonsillectomies are reading online forums for help just like you.

  2. As an adult, the pain experienced during recovery from a tonsillectomy is HORRIBLE! There is NO doubt about that. Three years ago, when I was age 47, I had my tonsillectomy (for chronic tonsil stones and infections). I have had several other surgeries in my life and the tonsillectomy recovery was by FAR the worst experience of them all! My Dr. had warned me that it would be the worst sore throat pain I would ever have in my life. I felt I was mentally prepared for the worst. Each day after surgery is a little different, and things tend to get worse before they get better. My tonsillectomy was a few years ago, so it’s all king of a blur now, (thankfully!!) but I remember drinking lots of liquid Tylenol, and taking a strong pain med (I can’t remember the name.) Besides the pain meds, it helps to have two other VERY IMPORTANT things. 1) A strong support team to encourage you and sympathize with you, and 2) a strong, daily positive attitude with CONSTANT reminders to yourself that, “I CAN DO THIS!” and,”this, too, shall pass.” Some days I was living minute by minute just praying my way through the moment, and reminding myself that soon this will all be a distant memory. When the depression hit it was a total surprise, but I somehow knew it had everything to do with the meds and the whole experience I was going through. I just knew in a few days when the meds were out of my system I would perk up. Drink a lot of water and keep reminding yourself that things will get better soon! The taste buds issue was also a surprise. I think it literally took over a year for foods to taste right again. Three years post-tonsillectomy it’s easy to say I am glad I did it. I am SO much healthier and glad not to have the tonsil issues anymore. Everything I went through is a distant memory. Hang in there and soon you will be looking back barely remembering it all, like me. :o)

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