Psychological support

Psychological support in the form of pre-and-post operative (surgical) psychotherapy may play an important role in dizzy patients and those with vestibular schwannoma. It is helpful in three ways namely:

  • it can assist in reducing pre-operative anxiety and fear,
  • it has been shown to improve post-operative recovery and to reduce both post-operative complications,
  • it helps with adjustment and adaptation after the surgery.

Psychological support and treatment of patients in hospital have been shown to be helpful in a number of ways. In heart attack cases, for example, psychotherapy for the associated anxiety and depression reduced the hospital stay, the number of days in ICU, as well as the days on a cardiac monitor.

In addition to this, pre- and post-operative psychotherapy was found to reduce anxiety, fear and depression; reduced hospital stays by an average of two days in post-surgery and post heart attack cases. It was also found that recovery from surgery was facilitated, complications were reduced and compliance with hospital procedures was improved.

In addition to this, specifically targeted hypnotherapeutic interventions in a group of women undergoing mammoplasty surgery resulted in significantly accelerated postoperative wound healing. The patients also self-reported experiences of reduction in postoperative pain, as well as improved incision healing and functional recovery.

These findings are of particular importance where surgery involving sensory organs, such as the inner ear hearing and balance organ is concerned. Patients about to undergo surgery on an important structure such as the ear are often extremely anxious as complications could result in hearing loss or vertigo, for example. Where this is the case, patients may suffer adjustment disorders or even longer term psychological difficulties.

After removal of a vestibular schwannoma or other tumour a patient often needs to be followed up for a certain period of time. During this time psychological support may be of benefit, not only to the patient, but also to the family.

Early psychological support and psychotherapy together with anti-depressant and other medication has been found to be extremely effective in reducing pre-operative fear and post-operative adjustment. Kevin Fourie

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