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Teens do not Benefit from Better Mental Health after Bariatric Surgery

Mental Illness List, Psychiatric Disorders

It is not easy to go through adolescence. Your body changes rapidly, you feel constantly awkward in one way or another and are still trying to navigate a combination of social structures with adulthood aspirations.  When you add weight issues along with bariatric surgery into the mix, there is an extra level of complication.

Weight loss surgeons are just now able to look at the long term effects of bariatric surgery on teens. This is thanks to a group of teens and the expert weight loss surgeons from Sweden.  They gathered a lot of results with physical evidence and kept track of every step of the way. The next thing to address was not only long term physical benefits but long term emotional ones too. What did they find? How much does the weight loss after bariatric surgery help on a psychological level?

Teens do not Benefit from Better Mental Health after Bariatric Surgery

According to Swedish psychologist  Kajsa Järvholm, Ph.D., of the Childhood Obesity Unit at Skåne University Hospital, “It is a commonly held belief in Western societies that weight loss will lead to happiness; however, our data clearly show that this is not the case. Weight loss is beneficial in many ways (eg, reduced health risks, improved physical function), but it will not improve general mental health in young patients in a long-term perspective.”

Patients and their guardians filled out questionnaires about the state of their mental health. They did that both before the surgery and 5 years after the bariatric surgery took place.  The questionnaire covered things like self-esteem, mental health, and overall mood.

There was an uptick in mental health monitoring, and a small increase in self-esteem. However, the shift in overall mood had little noticeable positive consequences.  Just because teenagers are more likely to physically recover after bariatric surgery, that does not mean that they can do the same emotionally.

The Association Between Weight Loss and Happiness

For the last few decades, when food was starting to become plenty and obesity was becoming an issue, there was an established attitude when it comes to the idea of weight loss and happiness. The narrative that has been embraced by marketers, dieticians, and other people who are often trying to sell dietary supplements, is that if you are thinner, you will be happier. And we buy into it, literally spending billions of dollars into weight loss and dieting industries.

That is because people focus on stories of excess weight loss and treat it as not only a positive milestone for an accomplishment but also as a grand stroke of good fortune. It’s not unlike how the public treats a person who wins the grand prize of the lottery. They assume that sudden wealth is a good thing to happen because it allows them a lot of financial freedom. However, both of these things are far from the truth.

Because even if a drastic change appears to be for the better, that doesn’t mean that the positives are going to show up immediately. Or, it might not lead to positivity in every aspect of your life.  After all, correlation does not always equal causation. Just because someone is happier after weight loss that doesn’t mean that it had anything to do with it.

And, if you put external factors aside, that does not take biological factors into account. Things like genetics, age, other physical illnesses, family history, hormonal shifts, and trauma all play a part in mental health. To only say that weight issues are the main cause of happiness or depression is an unfounded stereotype. It also ignores other proven factors that contribute to mental illness.


There is one thing that you need to take away from the study. That is that mental health and happiness are not going to disappear after bariatric surgery, whether you are an adolescent or an adult.

” Although bariatric surgery can improve many aspects of health, alleviation of mental health problems should not be expected, and a multidisciplinary bariatric team should offer long-term mental health support after surgery.”

So, if you are looking into getting bariatric surgery, as a teen or adult, you cant go in with the expectation that it will cure your depression. If anything it will just provide a stepping stone for taking care of yourself. It is just part of what you are going through.

If you are looking for bariatric surgery in Huntsville, AL visit us at