If you have been struggling with significant weight gains for several years, and just can’t seem to lose the pounds (or keep them off), bariatric surgery is a proven option. Along with diet and exercise, weight loss procedures give you the best chance at losing excess weight and fighting weight-related health issues. However, some bariatric patients experience depression after weight loss surgery.

Significant 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 after weight loss surgery in a cross-section of patients six to twelve months after a procedure.

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

Most notably during the time between six and twelve months after surgery, 13.1 percent of patients reported feelings of depression. This is linked with a significant drop in self-esteem and social functioning. By identifying this window, researchers have given patients as well as physicians a vital tool for managing their feelings and taking proactive action in the direction of wellness.

How Can I Avoid Depression After Bariatric Surgery?

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 can battle depression after bariatric surgery by taking the following steps:

  • Manage expectations at the start
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Check-in with a psychologist
  • Join a support group
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Be active

Manage Expectations

It’s important to have realistic expectations about the procedure. Many people tend to think that they will instantly get into shape post-surgery, but this is often not the case. Weight loss surgery is a gradual process and taking time to adjust to the changes may help alleviate some stress.

This isn’t to say there isn’t impressive weight loss after gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery. Gastric sleeve patients can lose up to 75 percent of their excess weight a year after surgery! But if you’re expecting to lose 50 pounds after a couple of months, that just isn’t the case.

Follow-up Appointments to Avoid Depression After Weight Loss Surgery

Make sure you keep up with regular follow-up appointments with your doctor and nutritionist. This will allow your medical team to monitor your progress and provide advice on diet and exercise plans that are best suited for your specific situation. They will let you know if your rate of weight loss is on track.

And, in the weeks and months after gastric sleeve surgery or other procedure, your diet and exercise routines will change as your body changes. It can be comforting to know everything is on pace to meet your weight loss goals. Remember, you’re not alone on this healthcare journey.

Check-in With a Psychologist Regularly

Life changes, even positive ones, bring on a host of new stressors. This includes 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 for many patients.

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.

Join a Support Group to Help With Bariatric Surgery and Depression

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 judgment-free zone where 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 losing weight process through sharing. Take that, depression!

Get Plenty of Rest

Make sure you are getting enough restful sleep each night. A lack of sleep has been linked to different rates of depression in many cases. Try to develop healthy habits like going to bed at the same time each night. Because you’re avoiding late-night snacks and caffeinated drinks entirely, your sleep quality should improve.

Even if you haven’t had weight-loss surgery, getting enough quality sleep is essential to your overall well-being. Research has found that getting adequate sleep helps regulate emotions and reduce stress levels. And if you aren’t feeling sluggish all day, you won’t be as irritable.

Fight Depression after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass Surgery by Being Active

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. Not to mention improved flexibility, strength, stamina, and overall heart health.

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!

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