Those seeking weight loss surgery often depressed

A woman walking along a street in Chinatown on Feb 17, 2014.
A woman walking along a street in Chinatown on Feb 17, 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

Number of those having a mental health condition higher than in general US population

WASHINGTON • Mental health conditions, such as depression and binge eating disorder, are common among patients seeking and undergoing weight loss surgery, according to a study published last week.

Some 23 per cent of patients undergoing weight loss procedures, known as bariatric surgery, reported having a mood disorder, said the study published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association.

Depression was the most common, reported in 19 per cent of patients, while 17 per cent were diagnosed with an eating disorder.

"Both estimates are higher than published rates for the general United States population, suggesting that special attention should be paid to these conditions among bariatric patients," the researchers wrote.

Another common mental health condition seen among such patients was anxiety, at 12 per cent.

Bariatric surgery involves surgically reducing the size of a person's stomach in order for him to achieve weight loss.

Led by Dr Aaron Dawes of the University of California in the US, the team conducted a meta-analysis to determine the prevalence of mental health conditions among bariatric surgery candidates and recipients.

They also looked at the association between pre-operative mental health conditions and health outcomes following bariatric surgery.

The researchers identified 68 publications meeting the criteria for inclusion in the analysis.

Among them, 59 publications reported the prevalence of pre-operative mental health conditions in 65,363 patients.

Also, 27 reported associations between pre-operative mental health conditions and post-operative outcomes in 50,182 patients.

About 19 per cent of US residents have a mental health condition, including 8 per cent with depression and up to 5 per cent with binge eating disorder.

There was conflicting evidence regarding the association between pre-operative mental health conditions and post-operative weight loss, but a fall in the prevalence of depression and the severity of depressive symptoms after bariatric surgery was noted.

Seven of the studies reviewed showed an 8 per cent to 74 per cent decrease in the rate of depression after bariatric surgery.

Six studies found a 40 per cent to 70 per cent drop in the severity of depressive symptoms, the study added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Those seeking weight loss op often depressed'. Print Edition | Subscribe