Psychological Changes Following Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery can help psychological and emotional problems.  There is well documented evidence of gains in positive self esteem, sense of taking control of one’s life, energy and vitality.   Anyone who has struggled with obesity is aware of its negative impact on the quality of life over time.  These include difficulties arise in social situations due to discrimination, shame and poor self confidence.  Depression, anxiety and even complete withdrawal from social circles are commonly reported.    Unfortunately losing weight doesn’t always translate into an immediate reversal of social anxiety nor of depression.

Some of the most common post bariatric surgery problems include:

  • A lingering perception of being obese even after losing weight and falling within normal BMI ranges. Years of convincing oneself that they do not look good does not go away in just a few months.
  • Relationships may be affected after bariatric surgery. Most individuals experience an increase in self-confidence.  Good relationships may become stronger while bad relationships may deteriorate further. As the person experiences greater self-confidence and enjoys their new body image, they may improve their sex life. This may strengthen an intimate bond with their significant other.  Those trapped in unhealthy relationships may find the strength to leave or push for changes.
  • Prior to bariatric surgery, individual may have eaten to help cope with negative emotions, to celebrate or just to enjoy the flavors of foods.   Foods high in fats and sugars are often “go to” foods for emotional eaters.  Post surgery, that will no longer be possible. As a result, some patients may feel deprived or resentful, particularly when cravings or hunger returns.  The journey to finding the right combination of foods that satisfy often can be eased by the assistance of a qualified bariatric dietitian
  • Some individuals, in not being able to cope with the change in diet, may develop other addictions to fill the void that food once did. There is an increased risk for abuse of alcohol that all bariatric patients should be aware of.
  • Extra skin after bariatric surgery can be upsetting or depressing. While this is a normal result of weight loss, it can also derail the patient’s journey.

While you will experience challenges after bariatric surgery, there are ways to cope with your changing lifestyle. First, family and friends are important in helping you lose the weight. When family and friends are part of your weight loss solution, you create an intimate group with whom you can brainstorm answers to your problems.

It is also important to attend support groups on a regular basis. You will learn about tips and tricks to lose weight, other people’s experiences and learn what others have done in your position. Support groups have been proven to be a very effective tool in losing weight and keeping the weight off as well as avoiding many psychological issues.

In the end every significant change can affect us. Undergoing bariatric surgery requires a great deal of dedication to your health and diet.  It also opens the door to opportunities for social connectedness,  new interests and passions.  Make sure to take advantage of all the resources and opportunities available to you.


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