Coping with the Hurdles of Mental Health After Bariatric Surgery

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The risks of bariatric surgery expand beyond just the physical strain of the actual procedure itself. Bariatric surgery can take a significant emotional toll on the patient as well.

While it’s to be expected that mental stress will alleviate over time as you lose weight post-surgery, you will still need time to adjust to your new lifestyle, which comes with its own unique set of physical, emotional, and mental challenges. Fortunately, mental health is always manageable with the right resources and support system.

Preparing for Emotional Challenges 

Post-surgery, you may experience a range of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you’ll likely be happy the procedure has been completed successfully. On the other, sudden weight loss can trigger emotions that may not be so favorable.

Let’s discuss and prepare for the emotional challenges you may experience after weight loss surgery.

Psychiatric Consequences

Conflicting emotions are normal after any surgery. You’re making a change and it’s natural that you will need time to adjust to your new reality. According to an analysis of 68 studies, approximately 25% of bariatric candidates suffer from a temporary a mood disorder – the most common being depression. The best way to combat these feelings are to prepare for them.

Many patients experience the thought,, “why am I depressed” during the process of losing weight. The thought of the health benefits, weight reduction, and improved quality of life drives many people to approach weight loss surgery. However, it’s normal to react differently than you expected and you should not feel ashamed to seek support.

Feeling Judged

While many people will pay you compliments, some patients experience worry that they are being judged. To avoid feelings of insecurity, share your weight-loss journey only with those you trust. Your bariatric surgery can be as personal as you want it to be and you do not need to share anything you’re uncomfortable with.

Lifetime Behavioral Changes

Old behaviors must become a thing of the past. Not only will you need to change your diet, but you must also become physically active. If you’re not willing to make the necessary behavioral changes, it will significantly diminish your chances of long-term success.

Physical Consequences

When you lose a significant amount of weight quickly, your body may undergo a series of changes. One such change is sagging skin. Think of your skin like a balloon – when it’s first inflated, it’s small and tight, but once it has been de-flated, it doesn’t bounce back to its original shape.

Replacing the fat you’ve lost with muscle mass by exercising is one way to reduce saggy skin, but if you have a significant amount of extra skin, cosmetic surgery is a quick and life-changing option. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor about options for reducing any unwanted physical changes post-surgery.

Friends in a bariatric surgery support group high-five following a workout.

Managing Emotions Post-Surgery

Handling the emotional changes that follow weight loss surgery may seem exhausting, but you can do it. Let’s look at a few ways you can accomplish this.

Find a Support Group

Leaning on a network of friends and family you can trust is one way to keep your spirits high during your weight loss journey. Another is finding an official support group.

You will have your low points and your high points, but if you have a group you can lean on, you’ll be able to glean strength from those who are willing to support you.

Bring Awareness to Emotions and Feelings

Your awareness of your emotions falls into a spectrum that ranges from no awareness at all to complete emotional awareness. Post-surgery, your emotions may be unpredictable and hard to identify, making it difficult to control them.

Learn to be mindful of your emotions and thoughts so they can be addressed. One way to do this is by seeking out professional help from a therapist or a doctor.

Do Not Wait to Seek Counseling

If you need counseling, don’t delay. The sooner you’re able to identify and isolate negative emotions, the sooner you can resolve those feelings and move forward with your life. Depression and mood disorders often grow worse when left untreated, but are always solvable with proper attention.

You may find that speaking with a professional may be precisely what you needed to address the troubling emotions you may be experiencing.

Keep Working With Your Surgeon

Aftercare is an essential part of long-term weight loss. Follow your doctor’s orders, including instructions on how to exercise and diet.

What may work for someone else may not work for you, so you must listen to the instructions from your bariatric surgeon explicitly to improve your chances of long-term weight loss.

Reach Out for Support Today

Bariatric patients will experience a range of mental hurdles as they adapt to their new life. By learning to accept the changes to your body and finding a support group that helps keep you centered, there are many ways to overcome mental health challenges and move forward.

Reach out to Olde Del Mar Surgical if you’re considering bariatric surgery. We care for our patients physically and emotionally, providing the resources you need to cope with the emotional challenges. Contact us today for more information on mental health resources. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately.

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