Mental Health Improvement After Bariatric Surgery — Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, NYU

2017 Study Examines Trends in Emotional Well-Being After Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery improves emotional well-beingBariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) is a life-changing event. In addition to helping people lose weight and keep it off, there are significant emotional benefits. Patients become less depressed and anxious and more confident as they lose excess weight. Researchers have noted that one predictor of successful weight loss treatment is emotional self-regulation. This is the ability to cope with the demands of life and control one’s feelings and reactions. Recently, Efferdinger and colleagues examined emotional self-regulation in bariatric surgery patients. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, NYU Langone Medical Center bariatric surgeon, presents the findings of this fascinating study.

Study Methods

Efferdinger and colleagues examined trends in mental health for patients before and after bariatric surgery. They hoped to uncover connections between emotional self-regulation, symptoms of depression, health-related quality of life and weight loss. In addition, the researchers collected data on BMI, demographics and shifts in emotional coping mechanisms.

A total of 45 patients completed the full study, answering surveys six months before and after weight loss surgery. 34 of the patients were female and the mean age was 44. 33 of the patients underwent gastric bypass and 12 had gastric sleeve surgery.

Results and Conclusions

At six months after weight loss surgery:

  • Average BMI shifted from 45.59 to 33.65.
  • Patients lost an average of 26% of their total body weight.
  • The average excess weight lost was 62%.

Overall, the patients reported improvements to depression and health-related quality of life. The patients also noted greater mental well-being after bariatric surgery. Mental improvement scores were not quite as high as physical improvement scores, however. This suggests that the psychosocial consequences of obesity are harder to recover from than the physical consequences.

There were also patterns between coping mechanisms and weight loss success. The researchers found that patients with greater weight loss developed more adaptive mechanisms, for example. One explanation is that patients felt less shy in social situations and thus more able to talk about their feelings. The full results of this study are available here.

Although this was a short term study with a small sample size, it suggests benefits for psychological screenings after weight loss surgery. The researchers suggest that focusing on emotional self-regulation may significantly increase overall quality of life. Other preliminary studies suggest that depression, anxiety and lingering eating issues also resolve with better coping mechanisms. Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding (NYU Langone Medical Center) agrees that patients benefit from continued support from their medical teams that look beyond the numbers on the scale.

Bariatric Surgery Consultations with Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, NYU Langone Weight Management Program

For an appointment with Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, NYU Langone bariatric surgeon, please contact the NYU Langone Weight Management program.

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