Weight loss surgery may not curb depression in some people

Bariatric surgery is not a magic wand to curb depression, say scientists who found that not all obese people feel better after undergoing weight loss surgery.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 26, 2014, 19:39 PM IST

London: Bariatric surgery is not a magic wand to curb depression, say scientists who found that not all obese people feel better after undergoing weight loss surgery.

While most severely obese people experience much better spirits once they shed weight through a diet, ` changes or medical intervention, this is unfortunately not true for everyone, said Valentina Ivezaj and Carlos Grilo of the Yale University School of Medicine in the US.

Ivezaj and Grilo set out to investigate how prone bariatric patients are to still experiencing depressive symptoms, and especially if such symptoms increase markedly or not at all, after post-surgery.

Their study is the first to examine patients with discernible worsening depressive symptoms six and 12 months following gastric bypass 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. Of the 107 participants, 94 were women and 13 were men, 73 were white and 24 had completed college.

Consistent with previous research, Ivezaj and Grilo observed that most people who had undergone this procedure were in much better spirits.

In fact, most patients reported experiencing a normal and improved mood at six and 12 months after surgery.

However, in some cases negative mood changes started to creep in between six and 12 months after the operation, with 3.7 per cent of patients reporting that they felt discernibly more depressed 12 months post-surgery.

Between six and 12 months after the operation, however, even more patients (13.1 per cent) reported increases in depressive symptoms. These changes went hand-in-hand with significantly lower levels of self-esteem and social functioning.

"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 in an article in Springer's journal Obesity Surgery noted that the increases in depressive symptoms were indicative of only subthreshold or mild mood disturbances.