There are a number of issues that bariatric patients will need to address before and after obesity surgery. Prior to weight loss surgery, there will be an evaluation to determine the patient’s overall physical condition and to assess whether the individual is an appropriate candidate for bariatric surgery.
Bariatric patients will not only establish an intimate relationship with their bariatric surgeon but also will interact directly with a team of bariatric support professionals who will address nutrition and bariatric diet, vitamins and supplements, and a program of exercise.
A mental health professional may also be a member of the bariatric surgery care team because many individuals seeking weight loss surgery may have pre-existing psychological issues that bariatric surgery cannot address. Weight loss cannot remedy major depressive disorders, bipolarity, or schizophrenia although any of these disorders may accompany the condition of morbid obesity. Typically, patients will need to pass a bariatric psych evaluation.
I have suffered through depression and disordered eating prior to having bariatric surgery. Making significant lifestyle changes that included the gastric bypass surgery, an OA support group, exercise and a new healthy way of eating completely turned my life around. My life after weight loss surgery truly is wonderful.
Psychopathology and the Morbidly Obese
Research has shown that psychopathology (mental disorder) is no more prevalent among the morbidly obese than it is among the general population with the exception of binge eating. Three percent of obese individuals meet the criteria for binge eating as compared to 1.5% of the general population.
While there is no criteria for screening out bariatric patients with psychological disorders, those who may be denied obesity surgery or experience a delay in obesity surgery are people who abuse drugs, abuse alcohol, suffer from severe mental retardation, have uncontrolled symptoms of schizophrenia, or lack knowledge about bariatric surgery.
As already has been stated, people seeking a bariatric surgery option must undergo a bariatric psychological evaluation. Contraindications to surgery are a reality, but pre-surgery assessment and consultation provide insight about barriers to success and the things that need be done in the post surgical follow up.
Mental health issues do not mean that bariatric surgery will be automatically denied.
Psychological Health Issues of Bariatric Patients
Bariatric patients may have poor social support due to limited interaction with cohorts that stem from social stigmas associated with obesity. Social isolation contributes to the stress that can cause depression and diminish the sense of identity.
Counseling Bariatric Patients
Professional counseling of bariatric patients can help to improve mood and establish coping skills. Stress management techniques can also be taught.
The non-judgmental support given by the counselor can help to establish and enhance relationships with those who share the understanding of what it is to be a bariatric patient and the issues it involves. The purpose and sense of community that bariatric patients need to address the challenges of post-surgery aftercare and any comorbid mental health issues can be established as well.
Although psychological issues need through the bariatric surgery care team, support groups can be a good adjunct to therapy. Most surgeons offer a free support group to their bariatric patients, and there are many online support groups for weight loss and bariatric surgery. Overeaters Anonymous is another support group for people who want to stop compulsive overeating and can be a great adjunct to bariatric patients’ mental health.
In good health,