Taking Care of Your Mental Health After Weight Loss Surgery
by Anthony Benjamin on Oct 12, 2022
Taking Care of Your Mental Health After Weight Loss Surgery
With bariatric or weight loss surgery, the most significant changes happen during the first year. To have a successful outcome, you will need to make several permanent lifestyle changes to your behaviors, eating habits, and activity patterns. Besides the impact that the surgery has on your physical body, lifestyle changes may also affect your mental health, especially if you already have a mood disorder.
You may ask yourself, “why did I choose to do this,” right after surgery. This thinking is an example of how change can affect us — it’s not always easy! While everyone is different, some issues that you may experience after surgery are body dysmorphia, depression, self-esteem, and stress and anxiety. To achieve the best long-term outcome, you must take care of your mental health. Be aware of your emotional state and the ups and downs you may feel. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out for help and support.
Finding comfort in food when feeling down or upset is a common challenge for people struggling with weight loss. Work stress, financial worries, or relationship problems may be the root cause of overeating. These emotions may lead to a feeling of emptiness, and food creates a false sense of fullness.
After weight loss surgery, the way you deal with negative emotions and how you use food won’t magically change. You will have to shift your mindset from reaching for food during challenging situations to engaging in other forms of stress relief like exercise, meditation, or journaling. The key is to address the feelings behind the hunger that is important for long-term success and breaking the food-addiction cycle.
For some who have bariatric surgery, transfer addiction can also occur. In these instances, the person trades the eating disorder for another compulsive behavior – like smoking, drinking, or working out obsessively – to cope with stress and other emotions. The first step to managing any type of addiction is to recognize and acknowledge it exists. Then, seek help from a professional who can give you tools for coping.
Depression After Weight Loss Surgery
Some patients are vulnerable to post-surgery depression. While most approach the surgery with a positive attitude, focusing on weight reduction, health benefits, and improved quality of life, the surgery doesn’t always live up to the expectations. You may also mourn the loss of your previous relationship with food like you would that of a good friend. During this period of adjustment, you may experience mild depression.
You can help ward off post-surgery depression by becoming well-informed before surgery and setting realistic expectations. The following are some issues to discuss with your healthcare team:
- Stress may increase after surgery
- Rate of weight loss and plateaus
- Appetite changes
- Short-term dietary changes that slowly transition back to solid food
- A long-term, calorie-controlled healthy diet
- New exercise and activity regimen
- Mistakes and “slips” during weight loss journey
- Loose skin following weight loss
Among some of the common signs of depression are:
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Persistent sad or anxious feelings
If you experience depression, therapy is one of the best ways to deal with the changes in your life and find tools for coping. You can also reach out to friends, family, or a support group.
Obesity is a chronic condition that you will need to manage for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s important to remember that weight loss surgery is a tool on your journey to a healthier life.
Self-Esteem After Weight Loss Surgery
Even though you may begin to look different on the outside when you start to lose weight, you may still feel the same on the inside. Your weight loss surgery won’t cure feelings you may have like inadequacy, blame, and self-hate that have taken deep root in your psyche over the years. You may still have body image issues, even at your goal weight.
Self-image is a complicated issue and is affected by several factors besides weight. Past emotional trauma (like fat-shaming and bullying) can affect a person’s view of their body, no matter their actual appearance.
Here are some ways to help boost your self-esteem if you are struggling:
- Don’t look at everything as a pass or fail if you don’t meet your goal
- Compliment yourself
- Treat yourself nicely
- Value your strengths
- Use affirmations to program positive thinking
What is Body Dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphia is a condition when you can’t stop thinking about perceived flaws or imperfections in your body or appearance. Frequently these are minor flaws that are invisible to others. In some cases, the flaws don’t exist anywhere but in the person’s mind. For weight-loss-surgery patients, this means that when they look in the mirror, they might still see themselves as obese, even after they’ve lost significant weight.
People suffering from body dysmorphia are hyperaware of their appearance. Typically they repeatedly check themselves in the mirror, spend a significant amount of time grooming, or continually seek reassurance. Some other signs of body dysmorphia syndrome include:
- Believing you have a defect in your appearance that makes you deformed or ugly
- The assumption that others are mocking you because of your appearance
- Self-destructive behaviors like skin picking
- Having perfectionist tendencies
- Avoiding social situations
Left untreated body dysmorphic disorder may get worse over time and can cause anxiety and severe depression. It is best treated with the help of trained therapists and counselors. Reach out to your care coordinator or doctor if you fell that you are suffering from body dysmorphia.
Steps for Improving Emotional Adjustments After Weight Loss Surgery
To achieve the best possible surgical outcomes, consider the following points for making improvements to your mental health following your procedure:
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations and orders from pre-surgery planning through post-surgery care.
- Consider journaling about what you are experiencing and tracking the food you eat. Writing can help you feel more in control of your life.
- Set realistic goals and expectations and write them down. Your goal may be getting off your medication(s) or walking without getting winded.
- Remember why you decided to have weight loss surgery to keep you motivated.
- Take pictures to document your weight loss and as a reminder about how far you’ve come.
- Reach out for help if you are having a hard time adjusting to the changes after surgery. Seek support from family, friends, support groups, and/or professional counseling. Getting help when you need it will help you feel less isolated and alone. If you’re not sure where to start, try ProCare Health’s support group. We also hold live videos through Crowdcast to help you on your journey!
- Get plenty of rest. Your body is better equipped to cope when it’s fully rested.
- Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and live life to the fullest.
ProCare Health is Here to Help You on Your Journey
The ProCare Health team supports your health during your weight loss journey. Our nutrition supplements are made with the best quality, accuracy, and bio-availability possible so that you get the most from every vitamin and supplement you take. If you need additional help or have any questions, please contact us today with questions or to place an order. 877-822-5808