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How Weight Loss Surgery Affects Mental Health

Weight Loss Surgery and mental healthAmongst patients who seek to undergo bariatric weight loss surgery, binge eating disorder and depression are common mental health conditions. But if these are conditions that are common before a patient has the weight loss surgery, does that mean that getting the surgery will help a patient overcome these mental ailments, or that the mental ailments will inhibit or promote weight loss? Keep reading to learn more.

The Stats
Researchers analyzed obese patients and they found that roughly 23% of the patients who undergo weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, stated that they suffered from a mood disorder prior to the operation.

The most common disorder was depression, with 19% of patients reporting that ailment, but another 17% of the patients had also been diagnosed with eating disorders. And an additional 12% of the patients said that they suffered with anxiety.

The Results
Is there a connection between mental health ailments and a person’s ability to lose weight with bariatric surgery?

Ultimately, the researchers found that there was conflicting evidence when it came to associating pre-operative mental health and post-operative weight loss. For example, neither binge eating nor depression consistently showed different outcomes in a patient’s weight. In other words, there was no real connection between a person’s mental state prior to the bariatric surgery and the results that he or she could enjoy after the surgery.

However, the weight loss surgery was associated consistently with post-op decreases in depression. Amongst seven studies, it was shown that there was a decrease in 8-74% of patients with depression. The severity of the symptoms of depression also decreased after the bariatric surgery, with six studies showing that there was a 40-70% decrease in symptom severity.

Bariatric Surgery and Mental Health
There have been previous studies and reviews that have already suggested that mental image, temperament, socioeconomic stability, support networks, cognitive function, and self-esteem all play significant roles in what the outcome of bariatric surgery will be.

The hope is that future studies will be able to show even clearer results. For now, it is clear that a patient’s mental health should be evaluated thoroughly prior to conducting bariatric surgery on them.

If you suffer from a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder and you are overweight or obese, having bariatric surgery may help. However, it is important to also talk to your doctor about how you can work on overcoming your mental health conditions, as the surgery may not be a cure, but rather a means by which you can help quell feelings of insecurity that are the result of a poor body image.