But mood conditions don't seem to hinder post-op weight loss, study says
By Amy Norton
The analysis of 68 studies found that almost one-quarter of obesity surgery candidates had a mood-related disorder, usually depression. Another 17 percent had binge-eating disorder, researchers report Jan. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Obesity surgery, known medically as bariatric surgery, can be an option for people who are severely overweight -- typically 100 pounds or more.
And while doctors have known that patients often have mental health symptoms as well, it has not been clear just how common that is, said study author Dr. Aaron Dawes.
"What was striking to us is that depression and binge-eating disorder were both more than twice as common as they are in the general U.S. population," said Dawes, a general surgery resident at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The good news was that the review found no clear evidence that mental health conditions hindered patients' weight loss after surgery.
That's reassuring, Dawes said, because there have been some concerns about that possibility.
There are different forms of obesity surgery, but all generally alter the digestive tract to limit the amount of food a person can eat. Surgery candidates, Dawes noted, have to commit to a new way of eating, both to lose weight and stay healthy -- and there have been questions about whether people in poorer mental health can manage the post-surgery changes.
"This analysis does not support the notion that these patients do worse," Dawes said.
On the other hand, he added, the findings show how important it is to consider obesity surgery candidates' mental health.
"Doctors need to be aware that mental health conditions are common among these patients, and refer them for treatment if necessary," Dawes said.
It is standard for patients to have some sort of mental health screening before undergoing weight-loss surgery.
That's typically done by a mental health professional, who would then advise the surgery team on how to move ahead if the patient does have a psychiatric condition, said Dr. Bruce Wolfe.