Sudden anxiety after surgery? : I am 2... - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support
45,380 members46,099 posts

Sudden anxiety after surgery?


I am 23 years old. I have never had any kind of anxiety before. I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and had surgery on Feb 2nd. Well on Feb 4th. My life changed and it feels like my world got turned upside down. It was around 2pm. I got up from the sofa. My heart started racing, it felt like I couldn't breath, I got super dizzy and just didn't feel right at all. I called 911 because I was home alone with my 4 year old son and didn't want anything to happen. I got there and they gave me a chest xray thinking I could possibly have a blood clot sense I just had surgery. That came back clear. Over the next couple of weeks nothing got better. I stayed dizzy all day every day and the other symptoms wold come and go. Several er trips and doctor visits later. I had a MRI of my head. 2 CT scans of my head and lots of bloodwork. Everythung was normal. So my question is, why up until my surgery did i never have anxiety, I've been perfectly healthy and this happens? It's been almost 8 weeks and a day hasn't past where I don't feel CONSTANTLY dizzy. 24/7. Being in a busy place or store males ot worse. I feel like my life is gone. I can't be the mom and wife I'm suppose to be anymore. I use to be so happy. Can it really be anxiety afyer surgery or is something more serious going wrong? I mean wouldn't anxiety dizziness go away? Atleast for a little?

29 Replies

Really sorry to hear about the ectopic pregnancy and what has happened since.

Do you know what anaesthetic was used? nitrous oxide can oxidise your B12 making it useless and one of the symptoms of B12 deficiency is anxiety.

You can find a list of symptoms here in case anything else rings a bell


You may have an underlying problem absorbing B12 as well ... and being pregnant may have caused your B12 levels to drop as B12 is used for healthy cell production so your supplies will have been diverted a little to the ectopic pregnancy.

The CDC has a website on B12 deficiency - though it probably doesn't cover these particular circumstances

You may also find this site useful

If you think it could be down to B12 then it may be worth posting on the PAS forum. (PAS = pernicious anaemia society - PA being one of the better known causes of B12 deficiency ... though people on the site are focused on B12 deficiency and its effects rather than PA in the narrow sense.


Hi there & feel for you loads.

i understand about the anxiety part. i had surgery in February. It was only a quick procedure and i was home very quick. however, the surgery was on thursday, friday i was fine but saturday and thereafters for about a week, oh god i was depressed, so anxious, miserable, dizzy constantly, nausea big time.

i was told it was the anaesthetic in my system and would take time to filter out from my body's system.

dont be too hard on yourself.


Whitamanda22 in reply to Hidden

That's how I was! The next day I was fine bit the day after that it hit me and never went away. It's been almost 8 weeks! I always think something is seriously wrong and they aren't going to catch it in time. Because I was fine before my surgery

I know its been a year but your the only person i have found on line thats having yhe same exact problem as me. Its been 3 months and im still dizzy. Have you figured out what it is yet?

No I havent. And I am still like this. It sucks. I suffer bad everyday. :( 

Psychogenic dizziness - i.e. dizziness which comes from a psychological root rather than a physical one - can be one of the most awful symptoms of anxiety.

As a first step, you should be talking to a counsellor - there are many therapies which can help; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or hypnosis etc. You could also talk to your doctor about a going on a good anxiolytic SSRI like sertraline (Zoloft.)

I've suffered with anxiety for about 10 years, and mostly had it under control through a combination of hypnotherapy and talking therapy, but I had surgery last Friday and it's brought on severe anxiety symptoms including horrible dizziness. I'm hoping they'll dissipate - after all, it's not even been a week yet - but if not, I'll be getting some CBT booked!

Hope this helps.

I agree- I didn’t want to think my dizzy/lightheadedness was attributable to my anxiety but I have been tested for just about everything else and I am coming to the conclusion that it most likely is the cause

Queball in reply to Whitamanda22

Have you found anything that is helpful? For me it has been 3 years and I still feel this way. Some days are worse than others, and I experience panic attacks as well, but I am dizzy almost all the time. I have tried b12, counseling, anti-depressants, acupuncture, exercise, changing my diet, and none of them have worked. I never experienced anxiety or panic attacks before my ruptured ectopic. I had a salpingectomy so I have always thought it may be a hormonal thing? Anyway, you are the only person that I have found that had this exact experience and I wanted to reach out and see if you found anything that was causing it.

Hi I had my gallbladder out 3 months ago and I'm having the same issues. Ive had anxiety since I was 16 but it went away for almost 10 years. I'm 34 now and a month after surgery I had a panic attack. Ever since that I wake up with anxiety and go to bed with it. Theres no reason for it either. I'm not stressed or worried about anything. I can't live like this again. It was debilitating as a teen. Theres definitely a connection to surgery bringing something up.

Did you ever recover? I am having this now after my ectopic surgery 7 weeks ago. I had stress seizures and felt like I completely lost the plot with the 24/7 terror flooding my body. I'm on an ssri now which has helped a little bit but not completely

This is almost my exact story. It's been 5 years for me. Mine was also for a miscarriage and my anxiety is still daily.

Kelliekareen in reply to Hidden

I had an appendectomy almost a month ago, it was complicated by scar tissue on my intestines from previous surgeries like a laperscopy to burn away endometriosis and then later a complete abdominal hysterectomy. I was gonna have my appendix removed and go home the same day but the scar tissue removal made it a 5 night stay. I have always had anxiety and panic attacks but just this week it has gotten way worse. I wake up in a panic, I have a fear of going to sleep but I'm not afraid I'm gonna die or anything. Im already on antidepressants and anti anxiety medication (for 16yrs) but it just doesn't seem to be enough. I sleep during the day while my family is up and busy and I am up all night alone stressing out. I had my post op appointment yesterday and everything is good and she answered some questions I was worried about and I thought that would ease my stress but here I am and haven't been to sleep. Its 10am here. Its panic, I hate panic. I'm accustomed to generalized anxiety. I just don't get it. I also all the sudden hate being in my room and it use to be my safe place. Idk, its just not under control and I don't know what to do. I'm so tired all the time, still have some pain but I know I will be fine so why all the panic all the sudden.

Im 56, ive had 13 surgeries including 2 knee replacements , appendix and gallbladder removals etc. , let me tell you surgery is hard on your body, it takes a while to get all traces of the gas out of your system, you may be having a reaction to painkillers. I experianced the same thing when they cut off Percocet.( Knee replacents can take a full year to recover from).

My suggestion, make sure your not on a strong painkiller, if you are do NOT just stop taking it, wean off it. UP your protein intake. I craved meat and cheese after big surgeries. Drink lots of fluids, sleep as much as possible. Your hormones are still freaking out to. Mine did after my hysterectomy. If it doesnt get better soon get to the Dr, you may need a little help from meds to get you over the bump for a while.

Whitamanda22 in reply to MFM008

Thank yoi for commenting. I didn't take any painkillers after because I know I don't do well with them so I skipped them all together. My surgery was on Feb 2nd a Monday I was fine that Tuesday and then on that Wed the 4th in the middle of the day I just got very dizzy, my heart started racing I was tingly everyhwere it felt like I couldn't breath. Then ever sense that day my dizziness hasn't went away at all. It's been constant and I will still sometimes get the other symptoms as well. I get muscle twitches everyday too. It's been almost 8 weeks. How long does somethung normally take like this to get back to normal?

Hello Amanda I came across your story and its very similar to mine . I had a keyhole surgery and after 2 days I had the same symptoms. it's been two months im doing okay but my mine problem is my head I feel like it's very heavy I can't focus I can say I feel dizzy but I don't feel like the room is spinning but more like its heavy all day everyday , it's a very uncomfortable feeling and I don't feel normal or how I used to be before surgery . Is there something you did to feel better?

I had laporscopy 6 days ago. I woke up feeling very groggy and took me awhile to function. That night while in bed I suffered from severe panic attacks and hallucinations and constantly going to the toilet to throw up, urinate and bowel movements. I ended up in a+e after 3 hours of no change. My pulse was high and my temperature was high. After a few hours I calmed down. All blood and urine tests where clear. Two days later it came over me again. Severe body trembling to the point I couldn't stand up ,heart was racing I just couldn't calm my body down. Eventually after nearly an hour in a+e again my body calmed down. More bloods where done and all was clear. I do usually suffer with some slight anxiety but nothing anywhere near this... I thought I was dying. I don't know if the operation has affected my endocrine system or something? Doctors where totally baffled. I don't feel like I was worrying about anything when the attacks happened I just felt them coming on. I also have a lot of scalp tension since operation which is making me feel dizzy and not with it. My laporscopy was to remove areas of endometriosis. I hope I start feeling normal again soon.

Me too. Same thing gallbladder. I had bad anxiety as a teen but since about 25 ive been fine. I'm 34 now. Ever since surgery ive had 5 panic attacks and wake up and go to bed with anxiety. The Dr says it shouldnt be from surgery at this point its been 3 months. But that is the only life change ive had. Meds help but I dont like taking them they make me tired. I just wish I knew where it was coming from.

I'm curious, I wake up and go to bed with lots of anxiety since my surgery over 4 months ago. How are you doing now?

Hi. I know this thread is nearly 3 years old but what you describe is exactly how I’m feeling. I had a hernia operation about 12months ago. The anxiety after it was awful. I couldn’t even take the dogs for a walk. Had to rush to get back home and thought something terrible was going to happen. When I tried to fall asleep that night I woke up gasping for breath. Had to open the window. Felt like I was going mad. It’s happened a few times times but if I drink alcohol now I have terrible anxiety the day after. I was never ever like this before general anaesthetic. I’m not sure why I have reacted like this. I do know they weigh you before the op. Maybe to work out how much you need in your system. Maybe they gave me too much. You can request a report of the dosage and they are legally bound to give it to you. Then you can have it looked at independently.

I had a hernia repair 2 years ago and experienced extreme anxiety and insomnia for a year afterwards. I have felt all along the anesthesia caused it. I am so glad to see this thread because I felt so alone while going through it. Doctors sent me for counseling and an anxiety disorder, yet I never had anxiety until the anesthesia (3x within 6 weeks, to be exact, and the anxiety started the day of the last procedure requiring anesthesia). I am positive our bodies cannot tolerate but so much anesthesia, and my body had received it's maximum load. I would love to see some type of study done on people receiving anesthesia and the side effects people feel afterwards. I am glad to see your note that we can request the dosage amount. I never thought to do that, but I would like to get to the bottom of losing a year of my life.

I am just about getting over it now. I had the op in March 2017. I can’t describe the feeling. I was scared of going to sleep because I thought I wouldn’t wake up. When I was falling asleep I would suddenly jolt wide awake heart pounding. Gasping for breath. Thought I was going to die. The hospital sent me home with all sorts of painkillers but to be honest I took some cocadamol and I don’t think they helped matters. I haven’t had any form of painkiller since that day in all honesty. I’m not putting anything inside me that doesn’t need to be there. A headache can generally be got rid of with water. And no I was never like that before the op. I will never have it again for any reason. I just hope I keep healthy enough so I don’t need any ops. I am of firm belief that they gave me too much of it. When I get round to it I will request a copy of the dosage report. I’m happy just to be getting back to normal. And I know how you feel. I felt like I was watching myself live my life like I wasn’t there. Very strange.

I’ve got a similar problem. Had surgery under general anathsetics and 2 days later I started suffering from severe anxiety and dizziness. After 7 weeks my dizziness almost stopped but now I’m left with a change of vision, where I see everything hyper vigilant or zoomed in, feels a bit like a dream. I think that’s where my brain has adjusted to the dizziness and has started compensating temporarily while I heal IA. Try some physio exercises for your eyes to help train your brain ie Cawthorne-Cooksey Exercises. The anxiety has slightly calmed by 10 % but it feels like it’s calmed more as long as I’m occupied by either cleaning or doing something to fix my problem like researching on health (see John berghman on you tube or Gary null). I’m aware of the thoughts and feelings I’m having and I keep reassuring my self that it’s anxiety so I don’t panic as much. Self talk is a massive factor that helped take control of the situation and helped me deal with it. Every time I get a anxiety or panic attack I relax and breath at a slightly longer than natural pace and reassure my self that it’s okay and it’s going to get better. From the outside I look normal to people so I act normal and at any point if I feel embarrassed or ashamed I just tell people I’m ill with vertigo to relieve any social pressure. I’ve not taken any meds of the doctors and I’m doing it all naturally. I’ve started the GAPS diet to heal my gut (only did all stages of intro for 8 days) incase there is a issue there (as I’m a firm believer that anxiety and gut health is related) and I’m seeing a therapist who is teaching me EFT (see dr mercola to learn it for free) and doing some EMDR treatment to get rid of any psychological past issues that I might have that’s giving me negative thoughts. I’ve also seen a CBT therapist who helped me think in a more positive way. Helps a lot when your in a negative state of mind, as sometimes I feel confused or simply mentally exhausted as well as the odd feeling of how much longer till I’m better. I’ve started making an effort to get more social with my friends and I spoke a lot to them about how I felt, after a week or 2 you get bored of telling them and start listening and enjoying their normal conversations & banter and before you know it regardless of the physical symptoms of anxiety that I get in my belly constantly, you start slowly acting how you used to with them having a laugh (staying positive and social is a massive factor). Still early days at the moment as I’m only on week 11. Still get the odd dizzy spells if I’m stressed or haven’t eaten well so I’ve learnt to take it step at the time and not try do to much at once when I feel good and keep it paced. Cardio 3 times a week in the gym has started to help loads with burning off the Adrenalin anxiety causes and doing something I enjoy a few times a week has also helped with the feel good factor for those brief moments that are starting to feel longer. I got faith in God that this will pass. My family member who’s a doctors said don’t panic, no one has ever died of dizziness so this problem ain’t life threatening. Also I’m now aware that people have had dizziness for 6 months or more and got better, either way I don’t know anyone who’s had this for life unless they still got either mental, physical or chemical stress in there life still ongoing and they are not taking steps to detox, heal the mind and body. I’m just going to do some weights and learn something new to keep me occupied, so at least when this is over with I don’t feel like I wasted my life as much and I gained something. It can make you feel a bit anxious when you think that it might take a while, some people heal quicker if they take the above steps, either way you can’t change the situation you can only change how you deal with it and I’m grateful that I’m not worse and apreciate the wisdom an blessing behind gods plan and look for the good reason this happens to me. I understand that this struggle is harder for some of us, but you got to have a positive mind set, hope, faith in God and with true conviction believe that it’s going to get better. If you take care of your mind by forgiveness, prayer, hope and positivity, don’t have any more physical stress like any uneccesary surgery and medication, give your body all the right nutrients and supplements through a organic diet and juicing with a few coffee enmas for your liver, then I can’t see any reason that you won’t heal quicker and be better off for the rest of your life IA

Did you ever get back to normal. It's been 7 weeks now since my laprascopic removal of our ectopic baby and life has been hell. Tremors, and anxiety so bad I haven't left the house. I feel there's no how and my life is over x

Hi Surgerynightmare I still haven't fully and it's almost 3 months post surgery. But it has lessened a little but I have also noticed paranoia has added to my anxiety. I am holding on to hope that mine will subside soon. How are you going now?

I'm in the same way, 2 days after surgery I experienced extreme anxiety. It's now been over 4 months and I still wake up and go to bed with anxiety. Please let me know how you progress.

Hi faith, I'm so sorry to hear you're in this situation too. I hope I'm able to provide you with some reassurance. I'm about 95% back to my old self. I still suffer with a little anxiety right before I fall asleep each night but I've been back to 'normal' (whatever normal is!) for about 7 weeks now. It just suddenly went away as fast as it came on. One day I was a mess loaded up with propranolol, diazepam etc and the next day fine, just like that. Hang in there. I was suacidal things were so bad I just can't believe how well I'm not doing xx

Honestly I am somewhat relieved that I found this group. After long thought I decided I wanted to share my experience with the group. TLDR experience of this has been as follows.

8 August this year (almost 3 months ago) I had emergency bowel surgery. I had an adhesion which formed 2 loops, causing an obstruction which then caused a twisted section of bowel, which then caused loss of blood supply and a section of bowel collapsed. This all happened in a period of 24hrs from the onset of pain. I almost died in the lead up to surgery and was told they almost lost me on the surgery table.

The ordeal was significantly traumatic to say the least. The pain was so high it resulted in reaching the limit of morphine and fentanyl. Anymore drugs and it would have killed me. My experience of extreme pain, along with facing my mortality, feeling my life force literally leaving me while conscious, saying goodbye to my family around me because I knew I was dying, is something I do wish on anyone and a level of trauma not many have to face.

Beside it being a huge surgical procedure with the complications not being able to be rectified laparoscopically, post op went well with no complications. After 9 days in hospital I was released to go home, whilst at home I was fine then anxiety hit me almost a week in home recovery. The fear of recurrence was real and huge, every pain I felt resulted in the thought that I was going to go back to hospital and would die. My anxiety went through the roof.

After 2 weeks the fear of recurrence began settling, but my anxiety shifted to life, work, family and everything else in life. I will mention, I am aware this anxiety is completely irrational as it ranges from "getting in trouble" from my boss, to being untrusting of colleagues, to being pulled over by police.

No manner of rational thought and self talk is able to calm my anxiety long term, even though it is repeatedly proven my colleagues are caring and supportive of me and offer their time to assist me, my boss is wonderfully supportive and the police couldnt care less about a Toyota Corolla driving counsellor in his 40s.

Then something strange happened, 6 weeks post op, I woke up one morning and told my wife I felt that I couldn't trust anyone at work. I noticed paranoia had joined my anxieties. I was having bizarre thoughts and visions of me being fired, being attacked at work and going to jail. For what you ask? Absolutely nothing comes to mind, no valid reason. This then shifted to being paranoid my phone is being tracked, my emails are being flagged and surveilled and I find myself fearing I'm being watched by the police.

This has continued, I'm paranoid that I will have my house searched and raided. Yet I have no reason as to why this would happen and no validity behind my fear. I'm paranoid I won't have money to retire on and I will fail my family. As mentioned no manner of rational and logical talk is working long term. It may alleviate immediate symptoms. But when I stop focusing the thoughts creep back along with huge levels of anxiety.

It is debilitating and upsetting, I am fortunate that it's not affecting my work...yet. Reading this forum thread has given me some comfort as only this morning I started getting paranoid that I'm developing schizophrenia due to the level of paranoia I'm experiencing. But after reading some research papers on post surgery psychiatric symptoms as well as reading the stories all you wonderful people have shared, it has given me some solace and peace.

I am hoping that it may be a result of a combination of PTSD from my post-surgery experience of pain, my near death experience, the severity of the surgery, the reality of subsequent obstructions coupled with the huge cocktail of pain medications I was given.

Thank you to those who offered up their time to read my ramblings. I hope this passes soon because I'm not coping well. I will keep you all updated on how it is progressing, whether its manifesting as something else or is subsiding.

Feel free to PM me if anyone has any questions or just wants to have a chat. As a therapist I know the power of speaking to others that are experiencing the same phenomenon. I know others would not even understand what it's like to experience this post op. Thanks again for reading.

Happyday45 in reply to Spees

Can I have ur number so I can chat with u? My husband going through very similar experience.

In 2016 I had a SWL (lithotripsy) for a kidney stone. (I've had pretty major surgeries before on my feet.) When we got there I was put under then woken up and told the machine was having issues, then put under and woken up again and told to come back the next day (Thursday). Get back up there bright and early, get put under again. Went home, all was fine. Then Friday we were going to town to eat. Out of nowhere, my throat and chest tightened up, I felt flushed (like my blood was boiling) couldn't see right and thought I was going to die. My wife ( who was full term with our 2nd) was keeping her composure and I finally pulled over at a pharmacy. I went to the ER twice and was admitted for 5 days while they ran test after test and could not pin point anything. I was released by my original urologist ( not the one that messed me up) and told I was having post OP panic and anxiety and it should clear up in a couple months. Well, 3 years later I wake up and go to sleep with it, I wake up in full panic out of sleep, I havent been able to see right since and I feel like its wrecking my marriage. Driving is a struggle, work is at times, Church is at times and I get no relief. So, back to my original surgeries, after my major reconstructive surgery on my left foot, I had hiccups for nearly a month, everyday. I was told I had a sensitivity or may be allergic to what they gave me. Well, after research, the two common things given was Versed (Midozolam). It can cause, long lasting hiccups, siezure like activity waking up or after surgery AND (DRUM ROLL) Anxiety and Panic that last weeks, months or years post OP. I never had anxiety nor knew what it and panic were. Now my entire life has been changed and hard to keep my head above water. Below is one of many links, check it out. Sincerely, You're not Alone.

You may also like...