For some severely obese patients, a new study hints that bariatric surgery might potentially do good for both body and mind. Patients seeking and undergoing such weight-loss procedures were more likely to suffer from depression and binge-eating than the general population — but those with depression often saw their mental health improve after surgery, a new UCLA-led paper shows.
The findings, published this week in JAMA, don’t establish a causal link between bariatric surgery and improved mental health. But they do reveal a surprising relationship that will have to be further probed by more research, scientists said.
“Although our results should not be interpreted as indicating that surgery is a treatment for depression, severely obese patients with depression may gain psychological benefits in addition to the physical benefits already associated with surgery,” the study authors wrote.
Bariatric surgery comprises a variety of different procedures, including the gastric bypass or a gastric band, that are used to help often severely obese people lose weight. Mental health is often linked in some form to these procedures — insurance companies typically require patients to get a mental health evaluation before they can get approval to undergo the surgery.