However, bariatric surgery is only part of the solution to achieving better health. Surgery is not a quick fix, but is one tool to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Another important component is tending to your psychological health. For many people, weight is a deeply emotional issue. Many of us eat to cover up feelings of stress, depression, loneliness, self doubt, or other psychological issues. Left unaddressed, these issues can manifest themselves in surprising ways after surgery. Many weight-loss surgery patients experience a condition known as addiction transference, where their previous tendency to overeat turns into problems with alcohol, gambling, compulsive shopping, or promiscuity.
It may be difficult for some patients to address their emotional issues or consider that they may have an addictive personality, but tending to your psychological health is crucial to achieving your health and wellness goals. Undergoing a complete psychiatric evaluation will indicate if you have any emotional barriers to success, such as:
- Unrealistic expectations of surgery outcome
- Inability to handle the stress of the surgery and the period that follows
- Likelihood of addiction transference
- Past history of substance abuse or dependencies
Many bariatric surgery patients make therapy an ongoing part of their weight-loss journey. Receiving unbiased feedback from a professional can be extremely helpful in dealing with unresolved emotional issues. It’s important to remember that everyone has had emotionally difficult situations in their lives and going to therapy does not mean there is something “wrong” with you. In addition to therapy, try exploring new ways of taking care of your emotional needs:
- Journal. Writing down your feelings can help you solve problems, improve cognitive function, and even boost the immune system.
- Resolve unaddressed conflicts with friends or family members. Repressed guilt or anger over unresolved situations can cause severe stress and anxiety. If you have lingering issues with someone in your life, try to clear the air.
- Tend to your own needs. If you are used to putting everyone else first, start letting your family know that you need to carve out some time for your own needs. Take a relaxing bubble bath or engage in a creative hobby. Ask them to respect your need to focus on yourself for a while. You’ll emerge feeling better prepared to deal with the other issues in your life.