Most recent update: Friday, August 17, 2018 - 11:28

Bariatric News - Cookies & privacy policy

You are here

Adolescent bariatric surgery

Focus on the mental health of young bariatric patients

Adolescents who undergo bariatric surgery must be screened in terms of their state of mental health
If surgery is to be part of what is considered basic healthcare, follow-ups must also be performed to evaluate the patients' psychological well-being two years after the surgery

Research from Lund University in Sweden shows that one in five adolescents who have undergone bariatric surgery experience poor mental health and some have suicidal thoughts. The study, ‘Mental health in adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery’, is based on follow-up studies of 88 adolescents who have undergone obesity surgery. Psychologically speaking, adolescents who are considered for bariatric surgery are a very vulnerable group. Most of them are cared for both physically and mentally, but there are those who suffer after the surgery: they are depressed and some of them experience thoughts of suicide.

“It is extremely important that the focus of healthcare providers is not limited to their patients' physical well-being", said study author and psychologist, Dr Kajsa Järvholm, who mapped the patients' psychological well-being before surgery, four months after, and again another two years after surgery. "At the first follow-up, most of them were feeling better. Right after the surgery, they experience a type of euphoria when the pounds start dropping after years of mental and physical problems due to them being overweight".

Järvholm argues that it's not until the two-year follow-up that you get a real indication of what the future will be like. At this time, 14 per cent experience suicidal thoughts and 13 per cent report symptoms of major depression.

"It is important to emphasise that they all feel better physically after the surgery. As for their mental well-being, we have seen that those who are in the worst state of mental health before the surgery are also those who continue to suffer", added Järvholm. "Obesity is often more difficult for young people than for adults. Therefore, there's a difference in developing obesity as an adult, and doing so while growing up.

She added that all adolescents who undergo bariatric surgery must be screened in terms of their state of mental health and if surgery is to be part of what is considered basic healthcare, follow-ups must also be performed to evaluate the patients' psychological well-being two years after the surgery.

The surgical treatment performed on obese adolescents is currently in a trial phase, on the initiative of the Swedish county councils. The results of Kajsa Järvholm's study are therefore important in terms of how to proceed in the future.

To access this report, please click here

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to Bariatric News!

Bariatric News
Keep up to date! Get the latest news in your inbox. NOTE: Bariatric News WILL NOT pass on your details to 3rd parties. However, you may receive ‘marketing emails’ sent by us on behalf of 3rd parties.