The mental health struggles of bariatric surgery

Weight loss surgical procedures like the gastric sleeve, mini bypass, omega loop and Roux-en-Y bypass are all a large investment in future health. Our clinic frequently receives positive feedback from patients’ post-surgery, describing how surgery has benefited their mental health and wellbeing. In particular, patients discuss improvements in self-confidence, body image, mood, energy, concentration and relationships. I frequently hear patients report an increased sense of control with eating, feeling as though their life is no longer ruled by eating or their food choices thereby allowing them to focus on other aspects of life such as health, fitness and career goals as well as enhancing meaningful connections with those they love.

Will surgery affect my mental health?

No surgery is without risks, and that includes mental health. For those patients who rely on food or alcohol to cope with stress, this can pose unique challenges as they begin to make changes with positive health behaviours. We also know that those who face a greater degree of stressors in their personal life will benefit from support as they embark on the weight loss surgery journey. Weight loss surgery requires patients to focus on prioritizing themselves and their own needs which, for many patients can be difficult, particularly busy parents, those with demanding work roles and those who are caring for their loved ones.

Considerations for Mental Health and Weight Loss Surgery

The key with promoting mental health and wellbeing as you prepare for and undergo your journey is to surround yourself with positive connections and supports.

Staying connected with your support team (Dietitian, GP, Surgeon, Nurse, Psychologist, Social Worker, Counsellor) is critical as well as being proactive with any decline in mental health. Early intervention can significantly reduce the risk of mental health symptoms undermining wellbeing goals. This is one reason why the team, at Toowoomba Weight Loss Surgery, work together to assist those who may be having a difficult time. We conduct regular multi-disciplinary team meetings relating to improving patient care and outcomes and participate in ongoing professional development and peer consultation to ensure we are implementing best practice procedures. We seek to meet patients where they are at with their physical health, as well as their mental health, to provide encouragement and assistance, ensuring that we appreciate the value each patient brings to their journey.

Written by, Kara Hockey, a psychologist with over 9 years of experience in assisting patients in managing mental health concerns and improving psychological wellbeing. Kara has a keen interest in the field of trauma-related concerns, eating behaviour, Weight Loss Surgery and positive psychology.

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