Those who choose to undergo weight loss surgery are well aware of the physical changes that occur as a result — bodily change is the entire reason they are getting the surgery in the first place. However, psychological changes are an inevitable result to such drastic physical changes and can significantly affect your quality of life.
In many cases, those who are morbidly obese have a history of, or are at a high risk for mental problems, including depression and eating disorders. In fact, depression and eating disorders may only worsen after getting bariatric surgery.
As a result, to qualify for bariatric surgery, you must be psychologically evaluated. If you are diagnosed with a mental health issue, you will have to address these problems before undergoing surgery.
Studies have shown that most people who choose bariatric surgery as a solution to their weight problem need mental care not only before surgery but after it as well.
With dramatic weight loss comes an entirely new body image. Those who were previously anxious or depressed because of their weight may find themselves much happier after surgery with the source of their distress eliminated. Self-confidence and self-esteem may also be raised as a result of the weight loss.
In a Harvard Mental Health publication, experts noted that depression and anxiety in bariatric surgery patients were significantly reduced one year after surgery. However, levels of depression and anxiety have also been shown to increase two to four years after surgery in some patients. While psychological changes after bariatric surgery are difficult to predict, most doctors believe that bariatric surgery can improve overall mental health and quality of life.
Changes in how you look and feel about yourself can have an affect on the people around you. It is possible for friends or significant others to be unresponsive to your need for support for resent the changes that you are experiencing.
Divorce rates among couples with one partner who had bariatric surgery are high. Jealousy may develop or negative aspects previously ignored because of self-esteem issues become apparent. For example, some obese people settle in abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships because they believe that they won't be able to find anyone else better. However, after losing a significant amount of weight after surgery, they may gain the confidence and motivation to finally move on.
Emotional eating occurs when negative feelings surface and a person eats to comfort himself. Because emotional eating is not related to hunger, those who engage in it eat far more calories than their bodies need, resulting in excessive weight gain.
If emotional eating is a habit of a bariatric surgery patient, then it can be difficult to overcome it after surgery. There are physical side effects to eating the wrong kinds (or amounts) of food after surgery, such as vomiting and cramps. Consequently, the inability to freely use food as a comfort can result in depression. If emotional eating continues after the patient has healed, he will regain weight.
If you do engage in emotional eating, break the habit and develop healthy eating behaviors. Here are some tips on how to cope with emotional eating:
The struggle to adapt to a completely new lifestyle after surgery can be stressful and may take a toll on patients' mental health. The changes that must be made, including a strict diet and daily exercise, along with the possibility of many uncomfortable side effects can cause anxiety and feelings of helplessness. Joining a support group or seeing a mental health professional can help patients cope with these feelings and provide them with strategies for adapting.
The road to a new, healthier you is not an easy one, but the physical and mental healing that can occur as a result is well worth the hard work. Overcoming the challenges of life after bariatric surgery is an accomplishment.
Allina (n.d.). After Gastric Bypass Surgery: Possible Problems. Retrieved April 23, 2008, from the Allina Web site.
At Health Inc. (n.d.). Are You an Emotional Eater? Tips to Cope With the Cravings. Retrieved April 23, 2008, from the AtHealth.com Web site.
Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc.(n.d.). Emotional Eating and Cravings. Retrieved April 23, 2008, from the BariatricEdge.com Web site.
MediLexicon International Ltd (2007). Mental Health Care Needed Before, After Bariatric Surgery, Says The Harvard Mental Health Letter. Retrieved April 23, 2008, from the Medical News Today Web site.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions