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Bariatric surgery may relieve depression, study says
June 15th, 2011
01:24 PM ET

Bariatric surgery may relieve depression, study says

Depression and anxiety are common among morbidly obese patients who get bariatric surgery.

What  contributes to the other can be a  chicken-and-egg argument.  But studies have shown that with weight loss, there are improvements in depression.

In a study, Jonathan Finks, an assistant professor of surgery of University Michigan and his co-authors observed that 46% of the patients getting the weight loss surgery have a psychiatric disorder.

They examined data from the Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative that contains data of more than 26,000 patients who have undergone weight loss surgery since 2006.

The surgeries included gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy (removal of the left side of the stomach), gastric banding (placing a ring around the upper part of the stomach) and the duodenal switch (similar to gastric bypass, but keeps some stomach and passes most of the intestine).

Bariatric surgery doesn't help obese live longer, study says

Before the surgery, 72% of patients with depression used antidepressants.

A year after bariatric surgery, the percentage of people taking antidepressants dropped to 60%.  Finks added that the percentage of people responding to the surveys a year later dropped to just 31%.

“The real focus is whether psychiatric disorders affect the outcome of surgery,” Finks said.  “We wanted to look at the effects on depression. Our results suggest bariatric surgery may improve depression for patients, although further studies are definitely warranted.”

The study being presented at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery found that patients who have psychiatric disorders have similar improvement in their quality of life and weight loss, to patients who don’t have mental disorders.

Mental illness should not be a barrier to surgery, he said.

“Bariatric surgery may improve depression,” Finks said.


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. RFrank

    And this is why it's never a good idea to fat-shame someone into losing weight. You can tell yourself all you want that you're doing it for the fatty's own good, that someone needs to kick them in the pants to do it, etc...but it's really just about enjoying a feeling of superiority because you don't have a weight problem. (I really don't mean that as aggressively as it probably comes across.) People like this really are often quite depressed, and the shaming exacerbates the depression. As with substance addictions, people have to want to make the change first; you can't humiliate someone into wanting to make real life changes. And in order to work, bariatric surgery requires some serious life changes. By the way, if anyone here is interested in changing their lives and losing weight, let me recommend checking out SparkPeople. It's an utterly free and anonymous site where you can pick and choose services to help you get healthy – informational articles, nutrition trackers, exercise trackers, social networking and support, blogging, tips, recipes, etc. Seriously. I'm not affiliated with the people who run the site in any way, but It's been a great motivational resource for me. I had already lost about 45 pounds and hit a plateau that I couldn't break through, and SparkPeople really did give me the motivation to push on and drop another 8 pounds. I certainly feel less depressed than I used to because I look and feel so much healthier, so (getting back to the article topic) I'm pretty sure their results apply to anyone who's lost a significant amount of weight. Surgery doesn't have to be the answer (though it might be! Everyone has different appropriate solutions.). Anyways...peace.

    June 15, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Adeyera

    This is good news, because it will help some people to get out of depression.
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    June 16, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. FoodisSelfLove

    My obesity was a cycle of depression, overindulging to feel better, followed by guilt, empty promises and more depression. My self-indulgent eating has changed as I’ve dealt with my childhood wounds that made me want to nurture myself with food, but by the time that emotional changed happen; I was in a caloric black hole…180 lbs over what I should be for my height. Over the last 5 yrs., I’ve lost 30 lbs. The extra weight however has cut my lung capacity by 30%, wreaked havoc on my knees, ankles, feet so maintaining an active life has been difficult and depressing. I’m schedule for surgery next month after nearly a year of prep with doctors, nutritionist, and psychologist. It will get me out of the caloric black hole and free my body for an active life.

    June 16, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Alex

    I received a lap-band in 3-10-10. I have since lost over 100 lbs. It is no surprise to me that depression is lessened after surgery I have a better self image and am overall more healthy.

    June 17, 2011 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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  6. Sarah Brightham

    Well, it does somehow make sense In my opinion that people who lose a lot of weigth have less depressions.

    They simply can look in the mirror again, the chances to have a happier relationship are also great. So, I am not sure if this study has an surprising outcom

    November 20, 2011 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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  12. Kathy

    I had gastric bypass surgery May 1st 2013. I was severely depressed and on medication for years. Initially as the weight came off and I was able to move easier (My highest weight was 450) my depression was almost gone. I was happy and excited and loved to walk and do yoga and just go outside. Now, almost a year later and 165 pounds lost I am more depressed that I was before the surgery. I am now on TWO antidepressants to try to control it.

    This surgery is not a quick fix and it is NOT easy. Your body changes so fast it is difficult for your brain to keep up. We didn't gain the weight overnight but all of a sudden we are losing it overnight. It is a shock to your mind and body and once the honeymoon period is over all you are left with is sagging skin and lower self esteem than you started with. I hear by year two this changes back to a happier state. I will try to keep this in mind.

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