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Avatar universal

post bypass anxiety and personality changes

My husband had quintuple bypass surgery 8 months ago. He had a mild heart attack 13 years previously which did not require any surgical intervention. I have noticed after his surgery that his anxiety level is extremely high. He lashes out for the smallest things and everything seems to get to him, especially anything that involves me. He drinks more wine to relax and I think it is having an adverse effect. When I mention that he might try some relaxation techniques to quell his anxiety he "goes off". He says "the doctor says I shouldn't be stressed and you are adding to it". I am so worried that if he continues on this pace he will wind up back in the hospital. Now when he stresses about something or drinks I want to avoid him because I don't want to hear him yell or tell me the latest thing I have done to give him anxiety,stress, etc. I spoke to the nurse months ago during his cardiac rehab and she said not to fight with him but don't let him abuse me either. I just don't know what to do anymore. He was not like this prior to the surgery and I just wondered if this is common and if it subsides. I am really trying not to feel sorry for myself but his heart surgery really happened to all of us and has affected everyone. I feel that I am walking on eggshells. Part of me wants to run and hide....getting close to my breaking point. Do you have any advice?
Thank you!
89 Responses
Avatar universal
My father self-medicated with alcohol due to anxiety over heart disease.  He had a heart attack at 42 and quadruple bypass surgery as well as both carotids bypassed at 60.  His heart disease and anxiety really ruled our family so I can relate to how you are feeling.  It's very difficult to know what to do in this situation.  I always wished that I had gotten my Dad in to see a counselor or gotten him some proper medication for his anxiety but he was much too stubborn for this.  Would your husband consider such a thing?  
61536 tn?1340698163
It is not uncommon for people to experience some depression and anxiety after going through this.  Everyone handles it differently, of course.  While his emotional health is as important as his physical health, you cannot discount your own wellbeing.  I think it's something that should be mentioned to his doctor.  He probably doesn't want to hear this from his wife, but may be more willing to listen to a healthcare professional.  People can be stubborn, it's in our nature.  Stress and anxiety won't benefit him, but probably won't damage him too badly in the short term either.  He's got to come to grips with it.  I wish I had answers on how to make that happen, but all I can really say is don't coddle him.  Don't irritate him either, but firmly tell him his anxiety is to a point where you fear it is affecting his health and, sick or not, he needs to handle that appropriately.

Most of all, be his wife, not his caregiver.  Don't treat him like he's glass, it will only make things a thousand times worse for him - and you, unfortunately.

He may end up needing treatment for depression and/or anxiety.  Is he in a cardiac rehabilitation program?  Sometimes this can be a HUGE help.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your input. The mood swings are intermittent but I think the idea of speaking to his doctor will be beneficial for both of us. You might be right that he would take advice better from him than from me. My husband is convinced that he is not depressed but I really think otherwise.
61536 tn?1340698163
Sometimes it takes someone close to us to see if we are not ourselves.  You may be absolutely right in your observations.  In any event, I hope you both get some answers soon.  I understand this must be a rough path for both of you.  I'm in hopes you both emerge from it stronger.
Avatar universal
I happened on the forum by chance.
My husband also had bypass surgery, since that time I noticed, like you a change in personality, irritability.. sometimes quite servere.and worrying over minor things.
He has been on statins since the surgery and I am convinced this is part of the cause in his case.
Avatar universal
My Husband Just Had a triple Bypass and he is not the same person he was
there are a great deal of changes in his personality. I really don't know this other person,
he does the same as your husband he flys off the handle for no reason he does not remember things like he did before the surgery. He seems less interested in anything.I don't know what happened but i did notice a difference right away and asked the doctor if he had a stroke or could test if he had one.The doctor said it was probably the pain pills,but i new it was something more,i could feel it and see it he just was not himself,his personality was totally different,and it's very hard to explain to an outsider that you know somethings not right.I wish you my best ,I just wanted you to know that your not alone
21064 tn?1309308733
My dad had CABG about 10 years ago and I agree that the surgery can be life-altering in more ways than one.  The physical effects of the surgery are long healed while the emotional/psychological effects remained.  Prior to the surgery, my dad was very high-spirited, happy-go-lucky, and rarely anxious or frustrated.  After the surgery, he became less tolerant and more readily irritated or frustrated.  It was definitely an adjustment for all of us.  We love him dearly, but we are honest and let him know when he seems "out of sorts."  

I agree that talking to his doctor is a good idea.  What you (and your husband) are experiencing is common and the doctor may have some great ideas for both of you.  Your husband is much more likely to listen to the doctor : )

You may also want to ask the doctor about your husband's medications. Personally, I think that the medications can contibute to the patient's mindset, etc.  Take care of yourself.

Avatar universal
I defintely agree with Anacyde's commnts. Your husbands are all exhibiting signs( frustration, irritabiliity, lack of interest, etc)  of depression. They should be evaluated by their doctors..

I have read that up to 50% of heart patients will be depressed in the first year fo their treatment. I speak from personal experience    I am a 55 year old male. I had a heart attack 20 months ago. I didn't have CABG but I had a stent. About a month into the recovery, I noticed that I was having problems with sleeping, crying jags, etc. I told my doctor that it seemed that all of the fun and joy in my life had ended.  She immediately put me on Zoloft. If I remember correctly, I felt much better, nearly normal, within 2 weeks.

One problem is that men are notoriously bad about talking about their feelings, thoughts, etc. If you add in the idea that depression isn't manly, then you can see why some men find it incredibly hard to discuss these problems.

By all means, I would definitely encourage you to talk to your doctors as depression can be treated through drugs, therapy or both.

You might also check into a group called mended hearts.  Thay have chapters in various cities and they can help support both the patient and caregiver. You mention you've been through rehab.  The rehab group should be able to refer you and your husband to psychologist who may be able to help by showing you ways to cope.  Even if your husband won't go, you may find it of interest.
Avatar universal
My ex-husband had a heart attack and triple by-pass. He was never the same again. He wouldn't quit smoking.  After about 6 months he told me that since he was going to die anyway, he wanted a divorce, so he could  be happy until he died..After separating for 2 years waiting for him to come to his senses, I finally gave in and gave him one. He married almost immediately, continued smoking, had another heart attack and double by-pass surgery. He survived again and is still smoking. He changed so completely I didn't even know him. I trully believe he was depressed, but he wouldn't go for councelling or anti-depressants. He is type A personality and a control freak. You have to take care of yourself and your children. Until he accepts help, I'm afraid you are in for a rough time. I don't mean to be negative, just wanted to let you know how far things can spiral out of control. Your husband is not accepting his health issues, and wants to blame anyone he can, for something he can't control. Good luck, and take care of yourself. He needs councelling badly.
Avatar universal
I can relate truely and completely, right now it sounds like you just described my husband.  He had surgery 3 months ago, but is 45.  I cannot believe the change in him, and it seems that he just walks around looking for something, and yes now he is centering all of this aggression on me.  Something anything could go wrong,I might not be there but by god its still linked to me.  I am only writing a short version of his recent shanagens but believe you me he has cause me much tear shed since hes been home.  The things he says are just plain mean.  I even told him that the good lord gave him another chance and better health, that he should exsert his new found energy to something good, he told me to shut up.  I dont know and certainly dont understand, but thankyou for this post because it gives me hope that when he says he doesent love me ,since the surgery, that maybe there is a link to it and now I dont feel so alone
Avatar universal
If you can find a CAD or CABG support group, that may be worth a try.  Just so he could see that he's not the only one going through this.  My main problem after CABG was lack of knowledge.  They do the surgery, boot you out the door, and tell you NOTHING about what to expect, etc..  It is very frustrating, and scary.  Depression is very common so some counselling (and drugs) may be helpful, too.
Avatar universal
I can understand what all of your husbands are going through.  I had a heart attack and emergency CABG x 5 about 5 years ago.  I understand the feeling of completely helplessness and even uselessness that comes with heart disease.  I also understand what a guy feels when it seems his life just got flushed down the toilet.  That doesn't make our resultant actions right by any means.  For those of you wives that have had to deal with and are currently dealing with a husband that is acting like a jerk my heart goes out to you.  I know I probably treated my wife like dirt for awhile.  I was so wrong to do that because she was my strongest support person.  It took me a long time to understand that I didn't have to always be strong.  I didn't have to be in charge.  Like most men, I had this macho attitude.  I took me awhile to get over that.  Some men maybe never will when put in the situation where they aren't the tough guy they thought they were.  It is a very humbling experience.

I know I blew up at my wife over stupid things.  I know I blamed her for everything.  I know I made her cry more than once because of things I said.  I also know I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her because it finally dawned on me that the position I found myself in wasn't anyone's fault but mine.

I don't really know what to tell you gals to do about the situation you find yourselves in with your husbands because everyone is different and I don't really know what made me finally wake up.  I do remember my wife finally having had enough and letting me know in pretty blunt terms that she wasn't interested in going to anymore of my pity parties.  I remember her telling me she loved me and that she would be there when the "real me" came home.  I guess "I" finally did and life has been wonderful ever since.

I sincerely wish you all the best of luck.

Avatar universal
sorry, its just another wife that has no idea what to do. its been a year and a half since my husband of nearly 38 years(as of now) had a quad bypass...he wasn't put into any rehab, he gained weight.now needs to have the stress test again and yet wants to lose weight first. i have told him he just can;t take the time to do that now. he needs the test. but the personality change has been the worse. i feel like when he says hurtful things or does things that hurt my heart that it just doesn't matter. he is living life the way he wants to. that is how he comes across.he was the most loving /strong/ sweetest/most tenderhearted person i have ever known that would have given me the world if he could. now i feel i am in the way in his world. i have not known how to deal with this. i spoke with his drs office for months about it and they told me if it was depression that wasn't something they dealt with..i was not warned of this. he had never been sick our entire marriage until that surgery--it was frightening and scary and i can not imagine living my life without him,,,,yet basically it is what i already am doing emotionally. i guess i have no choice but to let him act however,,,my job is to see that he gets the tests done --but as for the change in him, i don't think that is something that is going away and i don't know how  i can stand this. it has been a painful drastic change and he doesn't even realize it. he is still kind and loving...but on his terms and when he chooses....i am not sure how to make this transition and i am only in my 50's/this has felt like a death of sorts. and i fear he will not ever be the same and i am unsure how to live like this.
Avatar universal
While I have heart problems and have had bypass surgery and can understand what your husband is doing and maybe why he is the way he is, I certainly can't condon it.  I finally saw what I was doing to my wife and family and GREW up.  Everyone with heart disease or heart issues is affected differently on the mental side of things.  The same can be said about all the spouses and family of those affected.  They too all react differently.  Sadly, some relationships don't make it and that is truly a shame.  I hope and pray that yours isn't one of those.

You stated that it was YOUR job to make sure he gets a test done.  I don't think that it is your job at all.  It's his job to take care of himself, eat right, get exercise and it is his job to start thinking  less about himself and more about you and how his actions affect you.

I think it's your job to be that same person that made 38 years so wonderful.  I can't say that I know what you are going through because I was on the dishing out side for several years.  I do know pretty much what your husband is feeling though.  If you haven't a real pointed and blunt discussion about what is happening to you and your marriage maybe it's time to do that.  Maybe it's time to talk to a counselor, a therapist or a cleryman.  I think it is definitely time to talk, really talk, to your husband.

I wish you the best of luck and will hope for a happy outcome to all of this.  
Avatar universal
I'm sorry, but I have to agree with pusher.  It is your husband's job to live his life, make his own decisions, right or wrong,and take responsibility for his own life.  He is old enough to do this.  Your job is to take care of you, and to be honest with him AND yourself.
Avatar universal
i know deep down its his responsibilty to do all the right things for his health. I feel that at this moment he wouldn't even notice or  feel anything if i were to leave.-which i am not going to do. he has no clue as to how badly my heart aches due to his actions or decisions and choices,,, when i have tried to talk to him his famous line is "i don't know what you are talking about". i tried demanding--i tried crying--i tried ignoring--and i am at the point right now that i just want to get through christmas and if i have to deal with this it won't be til after the first. but i don't know how to deal with something when he doesn't even see it.
i have no one i really speak to about this as i do not want them to think badly of him,,,this is not the man i married. his actions /bad choices shouldn't be able to control my feelings like this. he is doing what he wants when he wants and i don't even know him. my thanks tho for your comments . i do feel i have dug my own hole tho and now i have to figure a way to get out. thank you.
Avatar universal
by the way--how long before you "saw the light " and what you had been doing to your wife and family--and what was the turning point. i seem to be doing everything wrong in that respect. thanks
Avatar universal
forgive me but one more question......please try to put into words what you were feeling--and why it made you behave the way you did. i want to try to understand -- as i am aware it was the surgery -- but i really can't relate to what has caused the personality change....in order to help us i need to understand what he is going through, thanks so much to all of you for being there. this may be the ray of hope i needed.
Avatar universal
i agree about taking responsibility but when 2 people live together, what one does reflects on the other, it is hard to separate yourself from his responsibility. my husband who passed away 7/22/06 spent his time since bypass (1997) needling me at every chance, screaming at me and blaming me for anything. my story is a little different in that my darling did not smoke, did not drink, was 11 years older. after his bypass we changed our eating lifestyle, vegans except on sunday. he was walking 5 miles a day. his blood fats were way down, ldl was 52. he lost 30lbs. the same for me. he was supported of our new life style. we lived like that for a year after we made the changes, 18 months after his bypass. he no longer needed meds for hypertension, diabetis. the first day of his retirement, a monday, these changes were gone, he was back to his old life. it was as if the bypass and subsequent life changes never happened. nothing i said or did was right. he finally told me in his last year, that he did not take no advise from no stinking woman. to this day i do not know why he stopped the changes, he did not know. if anyone can give me an opinion i'd appreciate it. the last year was screaming at me, sometimes in traffic, sometimes i thought i was going to have a heart attack from fright. if he had lived, i was looking at a divorce because the situation was causing me health problems, hypertension.         mamameow
Avatar universal
"i agree about taking responsibility but when 2 people live together, what one does reflects on the other, it is hard to separate yourself from his responsibility."
by mamameow

Excellent  statement.

"this is not the man i married. his actions /bad choices shouldn't be able to control my feelings like this. He is doing what he wants when he wants and i don't even know him. "
by msh22  

I heard that before, from my friend, popped up in my head at times:)…so I went back to read what you are all talking about………………..

Some of my random thoughts:

Doesn’t matter if our husbands had bypass or other heart issues, or any health issues or they are healthy and we are not. The point is we are ageing, and when in the door of death(or we think we were) we star to feel differently. Our real personality that was hiding and covered by our good behaving earlier now has a strong needs to come out ‘great’ and very said but good example for that what happened to LLWB ‘s marriage. I am very sorry LLWB what happened to you, but you did the right thing, to let him go if this is what he needed.  

We women must realize that. We all feel that at times even if we don’t  dare to say , only think: "this man is not I married to, I don’t even know him anymore"...but never forget: we are not the women they are married, and we are not angels, we all I am sure have our moments.....or many…

..be BLUNT…don’t bare your feelings, do NOT let those feelings to eat you up….
Congratulation to Pushers wife :) ….by the way pusher I thought you were a women, I admire your strong willingness how you push yourself ..Exercise etc….

Anyway my point is we must face the fact: things changed, due to health issues and age....we never can separate that, ever. Some people can see the way out from this s***  by unite, be even more loving and blame what happened to them on age, time, stress the world  whom ever and hold on the still many beautiful things left ,many activities that can do and enjoy together like: walk, garden, sports, visiting grandchildren, movies, traveling etc.....but non of those will salve the  main problem we are getting older and older looking , and even cranky sometimes and not as healthy young and beautiful we were or we thought we were once, and never will be…..isn’t that enough to be a little depressed about ?...and that’s all are a turning down...for the other too.

If it is hard to be in each other company every day, do more happy things for you, and let the other do the same, and accept   , compromise.

“Agree that talking to his doctor is a good idea.  What you (and your husband) are experiencing is common and the doctor may have some great ideas for both of you.  Your husband is much more likely to listen to the doctor: ) “
By Mamto3
…could be the answer for some people, but I say if you feel no way out and can afford go to get  a good therapist, a GP doctor might just give an other unhealthy pill, that can send you to la la land….that could be OK for a while, but not a solution for long years.

Divorce?...I say no never do it..dont leave your husband if he doesn’t want to live you, you will be even more miserable...friend of mine left her husband ,based on : " I didn’t know him anymore after 30 years of marriage" what a  nonsense I would say.

Unfortunately she had some bad adviser.

   “verbal abuse"... hm  what the hack it means anyway? Yelling, screaming, name calling? Sometimes the anger must come out….and most the TRUTH  must come out that how we really feel, and why?...it could help in my opinion in many cases and would save us to get on  antidepressant on which we can become like a vegetable….

Stay together if you can. Work on it!

  Lonely single people even more miserable..... At least we are whom in a 20-30-40  years of marriage have the other still whom we have our good and bad times...and it is up to us too that to be able to archive that balance in which the good times take over on the bad times.

If you still not sleeping on my post, as Barbarella would say: Count Your Blessings.  
And …
Have a Great Christmas Day Everybody!
Avatar universal
sorry but does not sound like you have had first hand knowledge of this situation. okay we all get old, we all will have health issues but at some point when there is no cooperation from the spouse who has had bypass, your own survival comes into play. cranky? need to let anger out? real personality coming out? we are not young and beautiful, so we must accept this behavior?  this is a medical situation i feel that doctors are aware of but do not pass on any advise. spouses in this situation know something is wrong but do not know why. then the self blaming comes in, and vienna, you add to it. so your advise is, because we are not nice looking anymore, old, we should keep our mouths shut, accept any behavior, count our blessings. go for nice walks, smell the flowers, travel.  single people are miserable and lonely!  i lived for seven years from the bypass being screamed at, not crankiness, until i started with health issues. i had to solve my health issues alone because my spouse was involved with his issues and too verbally abusive to care.  loneliness? i was more lonely before he died, because i was alone!  now i am running the business we had and choose to be alone when i want. my blood pressure and other health issues are under control. oh and the dating is fun even at age 66.

by the way the only thing that put me to sleep reading your post was the bad grammar and spelling. some of it did not make sense. you sound lonely.
Avatar universal
: ups sorry mamameow see my problem is :English is my second language...:)..
And this board doesn’t have an edit button to correct my mistakes after I realizing them, while reading my post again, after I sent it.

  I think you never loved your husband  enough if you were thinking on divorce after he had problems and poor you had health issue ,like high blood pressure……you couldn’t understand him, how would you understand me and my crappy English? :)  

You were not happy with him , you are happy without him ..nothing to ashamed of that....we have our love coming in a very different packages ...some of us have more...some of you have less...again I am sorry my grammar was painful to you !:)

Yes I was lonely for 1-2 hours today....:)this is why I posted...

..Tomorrow  will be  our 35 years wedding anniversary...and my husband is healthy I have heart issues.

Have a happy dating. :)...hope you will find real love.
Avatar universal
i sort of thought english was your second language. grammar that is painful is when it comes from u.s. born/educated posters. but you cannot always tell if it is second language or poor education. i am sorry about your heart issues.  my spouse was my second marriage. he was the love mature love of my life. we did everything together, including worked together. we were inseparable. when he retired i had to quit working in order to keep him healthy. little did i know that he had made, for whatever reason. the decision to go back to the old life style, without regard to his health. no matter what i did, how i did it, no matter how i asked or cried, the new life changes were gone. i was very happy with him---until the bypass. his personality changed, he did things that would impact me without any consultation with me and then would say that is how he was going to do something and i could leave if that is what i wanted. so i quit. i tried to continue helping him eat right without being obvious but just became a nag. so i stopped that and just enjoyed him until the screaming started about 2 years after the bypass. we were traveling in the motorhome continously, i did the driving, it was not safe for me to let him drive. he paid no attention to drive laws/speed limits. after 3 accidents which included turning the motorhome over, his driving stopped because i was going to leave. he would scream at me while driving that motorhome, 40foot with car in tow. he was an opera singer, a baritone, and when someone with that voice screams at you for nothing, it was frightening. it came to the point i said nothing for fear of being hit. he never did but the threat was there. as far as being happy without him? no but i am safe. like the rest of us who have posted, we would all like to understand why our spouses changed after bypass, not just accept our lot in life. i guess that is what some would say is love, accepting, never question, just love him more and if that fails then you just did not love him enough.

in your whole post you never mentioned you loved your husband. are you taking care of your health?
Avatar universal
i see there are all kinds of sides to this. i of course only know mine. but i do think the medical professionals should have discussed this possibility of extreme personality change with me --because with awareness comes less fear and worry. i am more at peace today as i did alot of thinking last night as well as today. I love my husband --good and bad times--and i am not going anywhere. i just want to help him. i do not like to think he is frightened or that he is waiting on the grim reaper around the corner.Heck, i don't know what he is thinking.   I also do not like to live in an unpleasant situation. That being said--this may all be due to something that i can not fix--and he may never become aware of as pusher did.  no matter tho--i do love him...I plan to speak with my personal dr. about this to be sure what i am doing--but helping him is helping me. I believe alot of the anxiety i have been experiencing from his changes are due to the fact i was so very ill-prepared. Goodness knows he has stood by me through some hard times..no-- that doesn't mean i owe him, but it does prove what kind of man he is.  If he doesn't even know what he's doing and when, then it would be pretty hard to convince him to get help...so my thinking is i need help to deal with who he is at this stage in his life.(for my sake as well as his)  I am not going to throw away 38 years of marriage when none of this may even be in his control.  actually i have never thought of doing that anyway.  whether  or not he may think he wants to leave some day-- i can not worry about right now.   We had a nice day today and I am most grateful for that. I am grateful for minutes instead of hours and hours instead of days now.  and thanks to pusher for all of his insight....Thanks to you all your help.
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