Bariatric Surgery and Depression

Question Below Submitted By:  

Annabelle F. (a patient from Arizona, USA)

My depression came on about month 4 after bariatric surgery and I’m now 5 months out. My doctor says it could be hormones due to losing 83 lbs and so much fat mass quickly.

I am on anti-depressant meds, thinking is fragmented. Dr says to ‘hang in’. If it lasts more than a month or two, it probably isn’t related to the surgery.

It’s agonizing. They did say depression might show up post surgery, true, but this is horrible.

Can you relate?


Expert Responses to the Question Above

Depression related to Weight Loss Surgery

by: Nadia Barhoumeh-Lee, RN

Hi Annabelle,While some people do experience some symptoms of depression after weight loss surgery, it certainly is not a normal symptom or feature of the surgery. In my experience, people who have significant depressive symptoms after surgery have typically suffered with depression in the past and/or perhaps were using food to cope with depression. In any case, depression is a serious concern and needs to be addressed with your doctors and mental health professional and requires active and comprehensive treatment. Attending bariatric support groups will provide you with additional benefit.Wishing you good health.

Nadia Barhoumeh-Lee,RN

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Response to Bariatric Surgery and Depression

by: Marc Bessler, M.D. Columbia University

Dear Anabelle,

While it is wonderful to hear about your weight loss success I would not be comfortable just accepting your increased depressive symptoms.

With weight loss come all kinds of potential stressors especially removal of the substance many turn to to deal with stress. New ways people may look at you and changes in relationships can be stressful.

Also important is the weight loss itself can change the dosage of medication that is appropriate.

Getting help and support with this is an important part of what I would hope a comprehensive weight loss program would offer.

Regardless, I suggest that you discuss your antidepressant regimen with your psychiatrist and find a support group to help with the major change and adjustment you are going through. This is a complex disease and getting expert help with the various aspects is better than relying on your surgeon to manage depression.

My best wishes for a quick recovery,

Dr. Marc Bessler

long island bariatric surgeon

P.S. If you've found my recommendations or this website helpful, please share on your favorite social media platform or tell a friend about us. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Related Pages:
- Life After Weight Loss Surgery


Patient Responses to the Question Above


by: Brenda

I have suffered with depression all of my adult life. Yes, I was on meds and seeing a psychologist before gastric sleeve. One reason I was depressed was because of my wt. Funny thing i would eat when depressed then get depressed for eating and gaining.

I had sleeve 8 years ago and i am depressed from weight gain so its a vicious circle in my life. I still take meds and even more than before. My weight has always been a problem in my life even as a young teen but I look back at pictures of myself playing sports and I say look at me I wasn't fat at all but I guess my environment and people around me told me I was fat so I had that image of myself.

I do recommend talking to a psychologist, it really does help.


by: Karen

Before my surgery I was being treated for depression that had to do with my weight and my health, as well as other things. After my surgery my depression became much worse! My doctor kept saying "hang in there it'll get better. I was SUFFERING from a lot of complications like bowel problems.My primary doctor had to double my previous strength depression pill just so that I could have some sort of balance. I am now in my 3rd month, and regret this surgery!

Gastric Bypass 8.26.14

by: Anna Creasey

I am so blessed,I was 280 lbs

response to first two comments

by: Anonymous

No, I was not depressed before surgery and they say this will pass and to be patient. I am taking the comments received to heart. Saw my doctor; asked for more help based on comments received.

I appreciate your feedback.


by: Yvonne McCarthy

Were you on anti-depressants before surgery? Also what kind of surgery did you have? "They say" that most obese people suffer from depression but they don't know until you lose the weight whether your depression was from being obese or whether you are really depressed.

Also weight loss surgery (like gastric bypass) can be malabsorptive so you may not absorb your meds like you did before surgery which means you may require a higher dose.

Are you saying you were not depressed before WLS? Sometimes post-ops are so sure that losing the weight will equate to happiness (and it doesn't).

We often can have expectations that are unrealistic.

Are you experiencing any difficulty in a relationship because you have lost the weight? Are you having problems with the way people treat you differently now? Are you at all angry about that? Can you talk a little more about things that are bothering you or are you just feeling depressed and can't figure it out? I think if you can answer these questions I might be able to help guide you a bit better if I can.

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this.

Depression Pre- and Post Surgery

by: Maria

I have suffered from clinical depression and panic disorderfor well over 25 years and have been on a combo of meds for it. I was in bariatric counseling and saw a therapist through all the prep time. I have already experienced some lows almost 8 weeks out but I was told about it and expected it. I believe part of it is not absorbing the meds., so I am keeping an eye on it and I go to counseling every three weeks. I am happy I did this and I am hoping that doesn't change.

Psychiatric meds

by: Elaine

Why is it you can not take extended release medications?

Lots of variables-

by: Oenomelej

First of all, it is a very common symptom as a result of WLS.
Anyone who tells you something else is not up on current research results and should hop over to NIH for an update.

First off, eating a whole lot less carbs can do it. Carbs act as a aid in your body’s chemical balance- going off of them can push you to have less serotonin which will cause depression- It is now thought that those who eat/crave carbs could be doing so to compensate for a low level.

If you’re put on meds ( hopefully Welbutrin so you don’t gain weight) it will take up to 4-6 weeks to be top effective.

All of us - every single WLS used food to comfort ourselves. The medical WLS industry keeps saying don’t do that anymore- just simply be tougher- what they completely fail to understand or care about is a fat person never ever wanted to be this way. We are disciplined- we’ve lost weight over and over again- we are genetically not balanced.

You can’t wave a magic wand lose weight and not expect issues (that is the exception not the rule). To tell us to just cut carbs is just a path through the weight- it may be in a couple of months this will pass).

Everyone has been genetically programmed a certain way, then epigenically triggered by life stress. This produces excessive cortisol and we use food as we “medicate” our way through it. We’ve done that for decades- understanding the reprogramming for our bodies and our minds and finding the right balance of food and meds after losing 75-85 percent of your gut takes years...

Some are too tired to make it through. Medical people do not know everything yet. Don’t let some nurse on a website tell you something different.

Do research- go to the national institute of health dot gov- it will astound you what docs don’t yet know.

Also listen to Dr Freedman on YouTube. He discovered Leptin - you’ll have a new appreciation for your struggles.

Depress after WLS

by: Dee

I’m going The the same thing. I’m 4 months out and have no motivation at all! No interest in anything I used to enjoy and tired all the time. Checking in with my PCP next week. This is not good!

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