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Depression After Gastric Bypass Surgery


Individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery are five times more likely to commit suicide than that of the general population.

The suicidal tendencies of patients who have undergone gastric bypass makes it important for patients and doctors alike to understand the link between gastric bypass surgery and post-operative depression.

Psychological Profile of Pre-Operative Gastric Bypass Surgery Patients

In a study that examined individuals who were seeking gastric bypass surgery, about 66% of the participants were found to have a lifetime history of at least one axis I disorder while 29% of the participants were found to have at least one axis II disorders. Axis I disorders are clinical disorders while axis II disorders are personality disorders.  The study concluded that Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV psychiatric disorders are prevalent in individuals seeking gastric bypass surgery.

Additionally, a positive connection was made between such psychiatric disorders and obesity and lower levels of health, thus leading the study to conclude as well that the presence of psychological illnesses in these individuals by virtue of their severe obesity may be the reason why they seek gastric bypass surgery.

Post-Operative Gastric Bypass Patients

Having a history of mental illness or psychological disorder is not the only reason why gastric bypass surgery patients have a strong tendency towards depression, as one study found that even patients with no history of depression prior to the operation subsequently developed depression after the procedure. There are many psychological triggers post-operation that lead to depression as well.

The most prevalent reaction that post-gastric bypass operation patients have is their disappointment that all their expectations prior to having the surgery did not materialize, as it is quite common for such patients to blame all their existing problems on their obesity. Other patients develop depression because they cannot seem to enjoy food the same way they used to as their stomachs can no longer hold the same amounts or kinds of food as before.


Expert Opinion

Quote:  “There were 16 deaths listed as suicides, but the actual suicide rate was likely higher, since some of the 14 deaths listed as drug overdoses on death certificates may have been suicides as well. Based on statistics for the general US population, only 2 suicides would have been expected in this number of people. “There was a substantial excess of suicide deaths, even excluding those listed only as drug overdose,” the authors write.”

Source:   Medscape Medical News  Higher-Than-Expected Suicide Rate Following Bariatric Surgery



Quote:  “A history of major depression should not exclude you if you otherwise qualify for gastric bypass surgery. However, if you are presently very depressed, you should be treated before gastric bypass is performed.”

Source:   Mary P. McGowan, M.D. GastricBypass Surgery: Everything You Need to Know to Make an Informed Decision.

New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Print.



Omalu MD, Bennet, and Diane G. Ives MPH. “Death Rates and Causes of Death After Bariatric Surgery for Pennsylvania Residents, 1995 to 2004, October 2007, Omalu Et Al. 142 (10): 923.” Archives of Surgery 142.10 (2007): 923-28. Archives of Surgery. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

Alexander, PsyD, Cynthia L. “Depression after Bariatric Surgery: Triggers, Identification, Treatment, and Prevention | Bariatric Times.” Bariatric Times: Clinical Developments and Metabolic Insights in Total Bariatric Patient Care. May 2008. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

Kalarchian PHD, Melissa A., Marsha D. Marcus PHD, and Et Al. “Psychiatric Disorders Among Bariatric Surgery Candidates: Relationship to Obesity and Functional Health Status.” American Journal of Psychiatry 164 (2007): 328-34. The American Journal of Psychiatry. American Psychiatry Association, Feb. 2007. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

“Axis I.” PSYweb Complete Mental Health Site. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.

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