Depression And Weight Loss Surgery
I saw a patient today who has battled with depression intermittently throughout her life and also struggled with obesity. She wonders if the two are related, but also about how she will manage the depression after her weight loss surgery. Is it still possible to take medications should she need them? Might her depression improve if she undergoes weight loss surgery?
Interestingly, the research on depression and obesity shows it is a two way street: depression leads to more obesity, but obesity itself exacerbates depression. It makes sense, if we think about it. Depressive feelings can lead to overeating and loss of motivation to exercise. Likewise, obesity can lead to feelings of lower self-esteem and lower one’s mood.
Research also indicates some people do experience improvement in their depression after weight loss surgery.
Similar data exists about non-surgical weight loss. Of course it is hard to separate out which comes first, better feelings of self-esteem and higher motivation that lead to successful weight loss or some improvements in weight, leading to better body image and some improvement in mood. Ultimately, this chicken and egg question may be difficult to answer, and the most important advice is to seize the day and to work very hard on both problems. By this, I mean that if you struggle with depressed mood then seek help immediately including psychological counseling and visiting with health professionals who may offer effective antidepressant medications and recommend mood elevating activities like exercise. Likewise, if you are overweight or obese, don’t let another day go by without working on this problem too. Seek professional help. Follow the strategies and tips outlined here and in my books and you will benefit with lower weight and an improved mood.
For my patient today, I also let her know that antidepressant medications can be taken and absorbed after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. We do believe it is best to change from any extending release formulations (for example Effexor XR) to the standard release formulations that usually must be taken two to three times a day rather than only once a day.
Like so many complex facets of human health, depression and obesity are closely linked. One affects the other, but more importantly one is improved by improving the other