7 weeks ago my wife had a full hystorectomy done because she had really bad abdominal pains. almost 2 weeks ago (wednesday) i came home from work and she was crying and was very emotional and wouldnt stop talking about her past and her family. i expected this kind of behavior considering the surgery and comforted her. this went on for a few days. then she became fully convinced that our neighbor (her best friend) wanted her to call child protective services on her husband because of abuse. the strange thing was she never actually talked to friend about it. this idea then began taking over everything she did and she couldnt really fuction and was confused a lot of the time. we also have twin boys which are 3yrs of age and she is a stay at home mother. so finally her friend and i sat her down and had a long talk about her conserns regaurding her friend’s family (sunday). everything seemed to be fine after that..for a couple days. tuesday afternoon hit and i was to be away on a trip for 10 days. i thought she was fine. she was acting like herself again. well on wednesday i got a call from my fist sergeant (i am in the air force) saying my wife was on base and asking for help because her friend’s husband was trying to hurt our kids. she thought that while she and our boys were sleeping he broke into our house, physically abused my sons, then left. she was convinced that my boys have bruises on them. well, she was escorted to the ER and i called a buddy of mine to watch the boys for me untill i was able to catch the next flight back home. she has been in the hospital for 4 days and they are still trying to figure out what is wrong with her. this was out of the blue. i mean it was like a light switch that went off in her head. even when i go and visit her she is absolutely convinced that her friend’s husband is trying to hurt our boys. when in fact is our boys were never hurt and he isnt an abuser. i guess my question is what can cause this. she was normal up untill that one night i came home from work. i miss my wife.
Anecdotally, I am aware of several cases in which a woman has had a medical procedure, such as a hysterectomy or a cesarean section, and experienced a psychotic episode very soon thereafter. It is as though the medical procedure triggered the psychological event. Another possible explanation is that the medical procedure was psychologically traumatizing, thus triggering the psychotic episode. Unfortunately, those theories are virtually impossible to test.
You may never know why your wife has developed her symptoms but what’s most important is that she receives the best possible treatment. She has been in the hospital and fortunately has likely been evaluated by a psychiatrist and members of his or her treatment team. Speak to them about the best way to treat her symptoms. They will likely suggest medication. Medication only works if the patient is willing to take it. Upon her discharge, it will be important for you to ensure that she takes her prescribed medication. The medication can reduce or eliminate her symptoms.
Also inquire about other types of treatment. Speak to the hospital social worker to review the possibilities. Therapy may be an option.
Make sure the hospital staff develops a comprehensive discharge plan that involves followup appointments with community or private mental health agencies. Other important factors involved in helping your wife recover and remain stable should include decreasing stress and having a supportive network of friends and family. Stress can trigger psychological events and therefore it is important that she feels calm and relaxed. Having a supportive network of friends and family can have a buffering effect in that it can reduce the likelihood of future psychological events.
You would also benefit from having support. Connect with your local National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) support groups either online or in person.
I hope that you are able to “get your wife back.” I wish you the best. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle