Depression after Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is so exciting and comes with many positive benefits. More than likely your confidence will go up and you will start feeling better than ever. It is an amazing feeling watching the scale go down so quickly. You will also physically feel so much better as the weight comes off. Many people talk about how they came off medications after bariatric surgery and feel stronger than ever. The list goes on with all the positive benefits from the surgery. I like to call the beginning of a weight loss surgery journey like a honeymoon period. You will lose the most weight towards the beginning of your journey and the excitement is very strong. However, there will come a point when things get harder.
Once the honeymoon stage is over, you might start getting frustrated or depressed because you cannot eat any of your favorite foods. It is extremely hard to let go of food when you have used it as a coping mechanism for so long. There are some people that struggle after the procedure. Depression is quite common for bariatric patients and it is something we need to talk about more. For me personally, I started having depression around the 9-month mark after surgery. The first few months I felt unstoppable but the farther out I got, the harder it was for me to deal with my emotions. I was exhausted emotionally because I was always around food and it made things very difficult for me. This is why the psychological evaluation is so important. Your doctors want to make sure that you will be ok after saying goodbye to unhealthy foods. They also want to make sure you won’t trade one addiction to another.
Even while losing weight, depression can set in. Food addiction is what many of us deal with and it is extremely difficult trying to navigate through the feelings you have when you aren’t getting the foods you want. Poor body image issues also play a role in depression. There are some people that look in the mirror and see something different than what they really look like. Body dysmorphia can take over and put negative thoughts into your head. Some people think that weight loss surgery will cure all issues. This is a very destructive way to think. The surgery is a tool. It will not fix everything, and it will be up to you to work hard and get through the emotional battle.
As the years go on, another issue can happen to cause depression. The culprit is regain. If you start adding in foods that you shouldn’t be eating, regain is possible. Self-control is a lot more difficult once you get farther out. If you did not handle the emotions early on in your journey, you will more than likely have the same issues farther out. I went through some pretty dark times with my regain. I felt ashamed that I gained weight back, which led to depression. I went through a period where I was pretty much starving myself to try to lose weight. These negative thoughts and behaviors did not get me anywhere and I soon had to take control and get back on track in a healthy way, both physically and emotionally.
No matter where you are at in your journey, you must address the depression that you are feeling. Talk to your doctors, friends, and family about the depression you are feeling. Find a support group where you can be open and vulnerable about your depression. You should not ignore it or it will continue getting worse. Weight loss surgery is a wonderful thing, but please remember that it is only one piece of your toolkit. Be compassionate with yourself and remember all the hard work you have put into this journey. You are stronger than you think!
- Kimberly H.