Psychological evaluations sound big and scary. However, most surgical weight loss programs require them. It really is nothing to fear. It’s necessary to evaluate your current mental health to give you the best possible outcome for surgery. They’ll review your former and current mental health issues. You’ll identify if you’re an emotional eater and how you’ll cope after surgery. They’ll give you suggestions for dealing with emotions and provide guidance for post-op mental health care. The psych eval required for surgery helps identify possible mental health issues and suggestions for coping with surgery.
Why Do We Get A Psych Eval?
Psych evals are required for a few reasons. An insurance company may require one before giving the approval for surgery. Also, your bariatric care team wants to give you the best shot they can to succeed after surgery. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses ahead of time will put you in a better position at surgery and afterward. The psychologist is not looking for problems, but rather ways to help you cope with surgery and any of the possible issues that may arise.
Surgery is taxing on your mental health. As you lose weight, your fat cells shrink and eventually dissolve. When they dissolve, they release hormones, and you’re on an emotional roller coaster. For me, it lasted until about six months post-op, then my emotions leveled out. At your psych evaluation, they want to see how well you are mentally prepared for this surgery. They will encourage you to see a mental health specialist if you are struggling after surgery.
Reviewing Your Mental Health
I feel like mental health gets such a bad reputation in this country. Seeing a therapist or psychologist doesn’t make you “crazy.” It just means you realize you need to work out some issues. It shows that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. At your psych eval, they’ll review any current or former mental health issues. Don’t feel like you have to hide anything. The psychologist wants to help you and provide approval for surgery.
Just because you may have a history of depression, anxiety or past trauma does not mean you’re automatically disqualified from surgery. As long as you’re in treatment or have control over your mental health issues, you shouldn’t have any problems. I remember the psychologist asking me a lot about my mental health when I was younger. I told them I struggled with depression as a teenager and still do occasionally. However, I have new coping mechanisms that I use when depression strikes.
Another topic we discussed extensively is emotional eating. It’s one of my causes of obesity, so we discussed reasons I emotionally ate and how I’ll handle my emotions after surgery. Since food can no longer be a source of comfort for me anymore, I needed a new way to process my emotions. For me, it’s been exercise. If you’re also an emotional eater, you’re going to want to find new ways to cope. Exercise is a great option, but you could also garden, read, write, volunteer or talk to a friend.
Finding new ways to cope with our emotions is so vital to our success. The Working Girl’s Guide to WLS posted some great tips on dealing with emotional eating after surgery. You can check out her post here. Start implementing now, so you can find activities that bring you the emotional support you need. You’re going to want to find a support group and reach out to them for help when you need it. Transform your thoughts on food. Think of food as a way to nourish your body and give you fuel. Food is no longer a source of comfort. You eat to replenish your body, not to destroy it. As your weight loss increases, it’s going to increase your motivation to stick to your lifestyle changes. As the weight drops, you’re going to see so many positive changes in your life. You’ll no longer need food to comfort you. It’s extremely freeing!
Suggestions for Post-Op Care
Another component of the psych eval was post-op care. The psychologist will suggest ways for coping with your emotions after surgery. It’s crucial that you take care of yourself mentally after surgery. It can be hard to adjust to your new body and new life, and it takes some time getting used to it. We’ve had “fat brain” for so long, that it’s hard to break that cycle of negative self-talk.
One of the suggestions my psychologist recommend is therapy after surgery. As I said earlier, therapy is a great option for bariatric patients. It’s nice to have an impartial person to talk to about our feelings and dealing with our changing lives. They can offer you coping mechanisms and give you a chance to talk about issues affecting you. It’s a form of self care, and we need all the self care we can get, especially our first year post-op. It can be tough, especially if you feel like you don’t have much support.
Your Psych Eval Is Beneficial
The psych eval required for bariatric surgery is a way for you to get mentally prepared. I think this journey is more mental than physical, and we need to be prepared for the roller coaster of emotions we’ll experience. The appointment isn’t as bad as it seems, and can provide valuable insight on your strengths and weaknesses. Make plans to get post-op mental health care, as talking about your experience helps to process and accept your new body. There’s no shame in seeking therapy. The suggestions they give you will help you cope with your new life. Not only does this appointment identify any possible mental health issues, but it will also offer suggestions for coping with surgery and your new life. Be proud of your decision to get surgery and take charge of your health. There’s no shame in getting healthy and living a long, happy life.
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free weight loss coloring chart, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
Your bariatric psych eval will evaluate your mental preparedness for surgery. You’ll discuss the issues that made you obese and how you’re going to handle them after surgery. Your team just wants to make sure you’re mentally ready for the big life change you’re about to undertake. There’s no need to fear it, as it’s quite common and easy to get through.