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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?1340701763
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?1340701763
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?1309312333
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.

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