Bariatric surgery and weight loss can be an incredible emotional roller coaster. For many patients, their whole identity has been wrapped up in their size, and breaking free to create a new you can be a daunting task.
A psychologist can help you talk through your feelings and give you some mental strategies to deal with the changes you will experience.
Is the old you holding back the new you?
Bariatric surgery certainly plays a significant role in the improvement of mental health. Multiple studies found that post bariatric surgery patients are more positive about themselves and their future prospects.
The effect of weight loss surgery on self-image and self-importance can, however, be complicated.
Patients may go through a roller coaster of hormonal changes in the process of re-adjusting to altered dietary intake, weight loss and activity. This might have an effect on mood, body image and other psychological symptoms that may ultimately affect the weight loss journey.
In addition, the anxiety from anticipation of a perfect image can take its toll while patients are trying to achieve that positive environment.
We know the best results are achieved with bariatric surgery when it is undertaken with well-informed individuals whose care is provided by dedicated multidisciplinary team that includes a mental health clinician to guide psychological and behavioural recommendations.
A clinical psychologist’s job is to provide a care plan that enhances the chances of postoperative success both in medical and psychological measures.
Do I have to see the clinical psychologist?
While it is not mandatory to see your bariatric psychologist, it is definitely recommended to help you achieve the maximum outcomes.
Why is it recommended that I see a clinical psychologist before surgery?
It is good to have an evaluation before surgery in order to establish a baseline which may help in future follow ups and treatments.
Are there any adverse mental outcomes of bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery has repeatedly proven to be the most effective solution to obesity and therefore by extension to mental health, self-confidence, and improved body image.
Some patients do experience mood swings which can likely be attributed to hormonal (serotonin, insulin) changes secondary to weight loss. This is usually transient.
A few patients find it difficult initially to get used to the skinny person they see in the mirror and can feel dissociation symptoms as a result. Whilst this is uncommon, a clinical psychologist’s help can have a huge positive impact in such conditions.
Diane Sibilant is the psychologist at The Hills Weight Loss & Reflux Clinic