While most severely obese people are much happier once they lose weight after bariatric surgery, this isn’t true for all patients, according to new research.
In fact, based on the findings of their new study, researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine advise that levels of depression be measured six to 12 months after bariatric surgery. This, they say, will ensure that the necessary help can be provided.
Researchers Valentina Ivezaj, Ph.D., and Carlos Grilo, Ph.D., set out to investigate how prone bariatric patients are to still experiencing symptoms of depressions after surgery.
Self-reported questionnaires were completed by 107 patients with extreme obesity before they underwent gastric bypass surgery, and then again six and 12 months after the procedure. They were asked to reflect on their levels of depression, possible eating disorders, their self-esteem and general social functioning, according to the researchers.
Of the 107 participants, 94 were women, 73 were white, and 24 had completed college.
Consistent with previous research, the researchers found that most people were in much better spirits after the surgery. In fact, most reported experiencing a normal and improved mood at six and 12 months after surgery, the researchers reported.
However, in some cases negative mood changes started to creep in between six and 12 months after the operation, the researchers discovered. They found that 3.7 percent of patients reported they felt discernibly more depressed 12 months post-surgery.
Between six and 12 months after the operation, however, even more patients — 13.1 percent — reported increases in symptoms of depression. These changes went hand-in-hand with significantly lower levels of self-esteem and social functioning, the researchers found.
“The majority of patients whose mood had worsened discernibly experienced these mood changes between six and 12 months post-surgery, suggesting this may be a critical period for early detection and intervention, as needed,” said Ivezaj.
“The increases in symptoms of depression are also notable given that they were associated with other difficulties, including lower self-esteem and social functioning,” added Grilo.
The researchers noted that the increases in symptoms were indicative of only subthreshold or mild mood disturbances. They also said that future research is needed to determine whether these mood changes continue to worsen over time.
The study was published in the journal Obesity Surgery.