depressionSignificant life changes, even positive ones, are known to produce periods of depression in individuals who are predisposed to the condition. A recent study published in Obesity Study has documented symptoms of depression in a cross-section patients six to twelve months after bariatric surgery.

In this study, researchers observed 107 extremely obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery to improve their health. While researchers documented that most patients who had undergone these procedures were in excellent spirits immediately post-op, their moods were very different twelve months later. At that time, 3.7 percent of these patients reported a discernable increase in depression.

Most notable, however, is that, during the time between six and twelve months after surgery, 13.1 percent of patients reported feelings of depression, linked with a significant drop in self-esteem and social functioning.

How Can I Avoid Post-Bariatric Depression?

By identifying the 6-to-12-month window in which depression is most challenging for post-op patients, researchers have given patients as well as physicians a vital tool for managing their feelings and taking proactive action in the direction of wellness. This time frame is considered a “critical period for early detection and intervention” (Valentina Ivezaj, Yale University School of Medicine). During this vulnerable time, patients would benefit from the following steps:

1. Check in with, or see a psychologist, regularly: Life changes, even positive ones, bring on a host of new stressors, including adjusting to your new body, working to lose and maintain weight, coping with positive and negative social feedback, and learning how to be yourself in a smaller body. Just one of these items can be emotionally challenging, so checking in with a trusted counselor or therapist, especially if you have struggled with depression or anxiety in the past, is an excellent decision. WeightWise Bariatric Program has a psychologist on staff to assess patients before surgery and address any post-op concerns you may have.

2. Join a support group: What can we say? Nothing beats the support you receive from a group of individuals who understand exactly what you are going through. Support groups provide a judgement-free zone in which it is safe and encouraged to share your deepest feelings about your transition to a healthier you. Talking about your challenges can be cathartic and allows you to accept the care and concern that only a room full of your peers can provide. Lean on your partner, lean on your friends, but be sure to attend a support group regularly, if only as a way to understand your bariatric process through sharing. Take that, depression!

3. Fun and effective exercise: You’ve heard it before; exercise plays a key role in boosting your self-esteem and reducing stress. When you work out, endorphins interact with receptors in your brain, reducing your perception of pain and triggering a positive feeling in your body, often known as euphoria. This “high” helps to produce a positive life outlook that can, day-in-and-day-out, help to reduce depressive symptoms. In addition, the improved self-esteem stemming from a regular workout regimen benefits many areas of your life.

The best way to avoid post-op depression is to plan ahead and act as quickly as possible to mediate and reduce symptoms. By addressing your feelings head on and seeking out the support you need, you are taking steps to a healthier, happier life!

Interested in learning more about the surgeries and support services at WeightWise? Contact us today!