Depression After Bariatric Surgery

After undergoing bariatric surgery, there is a high risk of many conditions, one of them being depression.

While this is not a surgical risk or nutritional risk, it can be just as serious.

Depression after bariatric surgery is more common than you would think. However, if you catch it early, there are some ways to minimize symptoms.

In this article, we will be discussing the seriousness of this condition that can follow bariatric surgery, and what can be done to help those who are affected by it.

depression after bariatric surgery

What Causes Depression After Bariatric Surgery?

Depression can be a common gastric bypass complication, as well as a complication of all weight loss procedures.

We talk about the most common reasons that individuals find themselves diagnosed with depression after bariatric surgery below.

Food Can't Be Used as a Coping Mechanism

Many people who are struggling with obesity use food as a coping mechanism, which is a reason why weight loss may be difficult in the first place.

Those who use food as a coping mechanism feel that food is the one constant that is always there for you. In this aspect, food is not just nutrition, it is happiness when you are sad, excitement at holiday events, and a reason to go out with friends. 

When you go through weight loss surgery and physically can't use food to make you feel better, or comfort you anymore, it is very likely that you could become depressed.

Life Isn't Automatically Easy After Surgery

Unfortunately, a lot of people who have bariatric surgery expect life to automatically be easier when they wake up after the surgery, and this is not the case.

After you've had bariatric surgery, you still have to adapt to healthy eating and exercise in order to see the weight loss results that you want.

depression after gastric bypass

The surgery doesn't automatically make your relationship with food better, it doesn't automatically make you thinner and it doesn’t always make life easier.

Yes, it is a great tool for improving obesity-related health conditions and quality of life. It also can help the weight come off a bit quicker than it would have before surgery, but you still have to work at it. You will also go through a tough recovery period as your body heals in order to get used to the way your new stomach works.

You May Not Lose as Much Weight as You Expected 

Most people expect the weight to fall off after they have had bariatric surgery, but this is not the case for everyone.

Average weight loss after surgery can range between 2 to 5 pounds per week, up to about 6-12 months after surgery. Many people expect more than this. 

Seeing the weight come off at a slower rate can diminish your confidence and cause frustration, sometimes leading to reoccurring bad habits.

Another factor is that after about 6 months, the rate of weight loss slows down even more and can plateau after a few months. This can also occur soon after surgery as a safety mechanism for the body. 

This has sent patients into a spiral of depression.

You Might Have to Miss out on Social Events

After having bariatric surgery, it is nearly impossible to eat as much food as you did before. The stomach has been adjusted to no longer be able to hold the same capacity of food. 

Your alcohol consumption will also be altered because of the way your body will now metabolize alcohol. It is absorbed into your bloodstream quicker and can have affects on the body even after a few sips.

It also isn't recommended to eat and drink at the same time. The guideline is to only drink 30 minutes before or after any meal.

This means that you are very limited in how much you can eat and drink. A lot of social events consist of eating and drinking, so you may feel excluded. This can cause a form of depression because you are unable to to enjoy these events like you once used to.

Dietary Changes

Depression can also be brought on due to diet and hormone changes after bariatric surgery.

depression after gastric sleeve surgery

The diet can directly affect changes in serotonin levels in the body, which in turn, alters neurotransmitter activity that can cause depression and anxious moods.

Vitamin deficiencies are another aspect that can cause depression after surgery.

For this reason, it is extremely important to supplement your diet correctly with chewable multivitamins for bariatric patients.

Why Is Post-Bariatric Surgery Depression So Serious?

Even though the risks of kidney stones after bariatric surgery or dehydration after bariatric surgery are more well-known, depression after surgery can be just as harmful.

Depression can cause problems with your relationships, it can make you slack at work, and lead to illness.

Depression can also increase your risk for medical complications such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and substance abuse.

In the worst-case scenario, depression can also lead people to become suicidal.

Taking care of yourself after bariatric surgery is critical. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, talk with someone. That can be a professional, friend or family member. 

How Can You Help People With Post-Bariatric Surgery Depression?

The first way of helping those suffering from post-surgery depression is recognizing that they are struggling because it is unlikely that they will tell you.

The period of 6 to 12 months after the operation is when depression is most prevalent amongst patients.

 gastric bypass and depressionDuring this time particularly, seeing a psychologist can be helpful for processing emotions related (or unrelated) to the surgery.

Another thing that would be helpful is joining a support group of people who have been through the surgery themselves. This can help with feelings of isolation and can give patients hope that things will get better.

Staying active during this time is also very important. This can mean exercise, or even just getting out of the house for a fun adventure. Endorphins from exercise can help balance any lack of serotonin. Keeping your mind active with activities will distract from any unwanted thoughts.

Alternatively, seeing a doctor and getting medical help where necessary can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Symptoms Of Depression

It is important that you know the signs and symptoms of depression for those who have had bariatric surgery.

The most common symptoms include headache, difficulty sleeping, change in appetite, restlessness, agitation, trouble concentrating, feelings of helplessness and guilt, as well as sadness, aches and chest pains.

Although fatigue after gastric bypass surgery can be common, it can also be a sign of depression.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek help. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, try seeking the help of a professional.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a very serious medical condition that is often brushed off as being “it's all in your head”.

However, this condition can be agonizing and debilitating for the person who is experiencing it.

It is so important that you don't take things lightly and if you see someone you know struggling after their bariatric surgery, try your best to get them the help they need. If you yourself are experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.

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**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition.