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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My father suffers from depression which has gotten worse since

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My father suffers from depression which has gotten worse since he had open heart surgery. He has a short temper and thinks my mother is having an affair. He tries to restrict where she goes and does not want her to see friends. He has recently become violent towards my mom, pushing her. I do not know what to do because he does not think he is depressed or needs help.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It is very common for people who have had heart surgery to experience a change in personalty or experience an increase in emotional difficulties. Heart surgery can cause psychological trauma so this may be why his behavior has changed. Anger, fear, irritability, lashing out and depression are all possibilities. It could be that the surgery interfered with your father's brain functioning, or it could be that having a serious illness that required heart surgery frightened your father and deepened his depression. He may also feel vulnerable as well.


However, that does not mean you or your mother need to allow him to become abusive. The fact that he is accusing your mother of having an affair and trying to restrict her activities and shoving her is abusive. If your father becomes physically violent, your mother may need to seek help either through the police or by leaving the home. She may need to stay away until he can get treatment. Here is a resource for your mother to help her find assistance:


If your father will not tell his doctor about these changes in personality, then you or your mother should. The doctor may not be able to share information with you about your father's case (unless you have a release signed), but you can certainly tell him/her what your father is acting like. That way, they can confront him the next time he goes for a checkup. The doctor can also prescribe medications to help your father with his depression and alleviate his symptoms.


The other possibility is that your father's medications are affecting him negatively. Side effects can have psychological impact so he may need a change in medicine to help him feel better.


Try talking with your father about this information and see if he would be willing to seek help. Talking about his experience would help him not feel so isolated and alone. He can talk with his doctor for a referral or he can search on line at


There are also other resources that can help including, support groups. Here are some to get you started:


The Cardiac Recovery Handbook: The Complete Guide to Life After Heart Attack or Heart Surgery, Second Edition by Paul Kligfield


Coping With Heart Surgery and Bypassing Depression: A Family's Guide to the Medical, Emotional, and Practical Issues by Carol CoXXXXX, XXXXX Cohan MA and June B. Pimm Ph.D.


You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.


I hope this has helped,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

My mother and I were concerned before he had surgery because he already was showing clear signs of depression (sleeping a lot, no real joy in his life etc..) before the surgery. Now that his thoughts seem not to be grounded entirely in reality, I am concerned he will become delusional. Is it possible for untreated depression to get worse and for the person to become delusional? Just wondering

It can be, but it sounds like the heart surgery may have triggered this problem. It would be unusual for someone to become delusional out of the blue, so most likely his problem is physical. My opinion would be either the medication side effects or it is the result of the trauma of the surgery.


Untreated depression can get worse and he does need to seek help for this problem. If he will not see a therapist, then medications will help. Both would be ideal, though.


The effects of heart surgery on psychological well being are not well studied yet. But heart patients are beginning to talk more about the changes they experience after they have heart surgery. A strong correlation between changes in emotions and heart surgery is noted too many times by heart patients to be ignored anymore. Your doctor may know a lot more about the effects and how your father can be helped. It could be something as simple as changing his medication or adding a new medication to address his depression.



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