Study Examines Psychiatric Condition of Weight Loss Surgery Candidates
> 3/2/2007 10:30:30 AM

A group of researchers from The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have published a new study examining the mental health of candidates for bariatric, or weight loss, surgery. By assessing the largely female (83.3%) and white (88.2%) group of 288 independently from their pre-operative screening, the research team was able to determine that 66% of those who were seeking surgery to address their weight issues had a lifetime history of mental health issues, with depression being the most frequent. 38% of those who were assessed were diagnosed as having a current axis I DSM IV mental health condition (bipolar and uni-polar depression, alcohol dependence, schizophrenia, etc.).

Along with the 38% identified as having an axis I diagnosis, an additional 29% were found to have a current axis II diagnosis. Those with axis I diagnoses were found to have higher BMIs than those without a current diagnosis.

As they state in the conclusion of the study's abstract:

Current and past DSM-IV psychiatric disorders are prevalent among bariatric surgery candidates and are associated with greater obesity and lower functional health status, highlighting the need to understand potential implications for surgery preparation and outcome. Future work also will focus on the course of psychiatric disorder during the post-surgery period and its relationship to weight loss and maintenance.

Binge eating, which has recently become something of a hot topic in mental health circles, was also cited by the researchers as having a high prevalence among those studied. While it should not be terribly surprising that many of those seeking bariatric surgery have mental health histories, this study is only an initial step at examining the effects that these surgeries can have on the mental health of those who undergo them. This research also may lend more insight to those who do research on mental health problems like depression and their comorbidity with obesity. The average BMI of those assessed for this study was more than 60% over the BMI required to be considered obese, so many of the participants were extremely unhealthy. Only further research will show to what extent that was a factor of having had mental health problems in the past.

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