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Should You Pursue Bariatric Surgery if You Are Chronically Stressed

Woman behind laptop holding head in hands due to stress

As bariatric surgeons, it’s incredible how we can often tell who has set themselves up for success, even from the first consultation. Making sure you are ready for bariatric surgery is one of our most important responsibilities as medical practitioners and bariatric surgeons. After all, you are entrusting us with a significant step in changing your life. If you are not ready for this change, you can’t fully take advantage of weight loss surgery’s incredible benefits. Or, possibly more frustrating, you will be successful for a time but ultimately may reverse some of those gains in the future if you are not in the right mindset for long-term weight maintenance.

Stress Matters?

We all get stressed on occasion. As a society, we have pressures that sometimes get overwhelming, and stress is a way for our bodies to manifest that pressure. Some of us can effectively cope with that stress by identifying our triggers and avoiding them or pursuing activities, meditation, and exercise that relieve our stress when it comes on.

With that said, stress can also be chronic, and this is when we feel stressed more often than just occasionally. This can be due to a number of factors, but chronic stress is a significant impediment to the success of your forthcoming bariatric procedure. As such, we always caution our patients to address their chronic stress before considering bariatric surgery.

Let’s Talk About Why

Stress, for one, releases a hormone called cortisol, which promotes eating. Cortisol may be partially to blame for your excess weight in the first place. Excess cortisol production before or after bariatric surgery can cause weight gain or a lack of weight loss.

But stress and its related hormones also can cause significant psychological changes. For one, the frustration that you may feel while under pressure may lead you to make rash decisions. When deciding to have bariatric surgery, we want you to have clarity of mind. It is essential that you are fully committed to improving your life and your health. Otherwise, the surgery cannot do it for you alone.

After surgery, stress can also promote bad eating decisions. For example, if you are a stress eater, you may give in to overindulgence more often than you would if you could control your stress more effectively.

How Can I Control Stress?

Regardless of the effects of stress, controlling and managing your stress is an integral part of long-term health, whether through bariatric surgery or not. Maintaining focus requires two critical components. First is identifying your triggers. Knowing what causes you stress will make you better prepared to manage it. By taking some time to understand the stress in your life, whether personal or professional, you can identify the situation in which you become stressed. At that point, part two comes into effect. Once you have identified the trigger, you can immediately take steps to nip it in the bud.

Sometimes, stressful situations and emotions are inevitable, requiring planning and thoughtful activities. When you feel stressed, you may play a musical instrument, step away from the stressful situation, exercise, do yoga, stretch, practice mindfulness, or do some meditation. These options can go a long way to reducing stress and managing stressful thoughts.

It’s important to remember that stressful situations are not the only things that cause these emotional ups and downs. For example, a lack of sleep is a leading cause of stress, and a body that is not well-rested is more prone to physical and psychological ailments.

Your stress may also signify a more profound, deep-seated concern, such as anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing these feelings regularly, you may wish to see a licensed therapist or another clinician that can help you work through these emotions and reduce your stress level.

So, Do We Recommend Having Bariatric Surgery if You Suffer From Chronic Stress?

The short answer is that if you don’t have chronic stress under control, your bariatric procedure may not be as successful as we expect. We also know that bariatric surgery and the weight loss resulting from it can often relieve some of the physical and psychological burdens that may be causing you stress. However, to best ensure a good outcome, it’s essential that you take steps to manage your stress, either at home or with the assistance of a licensed clinician. In the meantime, we are always here to offer guidance and support.

We can discuss these and other concerns and best prepare you for what lies ahead. Remember that bariatric surgery is not the only solution to excess weight and obesity. Instead, it is the first part of a more significant lifestyle change that requires a great deal of effort from you now and long into the future. Lifestyle change runs the gamut from changing your eating and exercise habits to addressing any underlying physical or mental health issues.

We will say, however, that, just by reading this article, you’ve expressed interest in improving your life and health, and that is to be commended. Now is the time to evaluate whether bariatric surgery is the right option within the larger context of your lifestyle and what is impeding your weight loss. Contact us for a consultation.

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