Can I have weight loss surgery if I have a history of mental illness?
Mental illness does not rule you out for weight loss surgery, but some private clinics require candidates to have a mental health assessment before approving surgery. Weight loss surgery through the NHS pathway is subject to a mental health assessment.
People living with mental illness lose the same excess body weight as is expected in patients with no history of mental illness. However, if you are obese and living with a mental health condition you will need to discuss mental health support as part of your aftercare with your surgeon and GP.
What does a mental health assessment look for?
Particularly in private healthcare in the UK and US, health insurance companies often require a pre-surgery mental health assessment to clarify if the client qualifies for insurance, before surgery is approved.
More generally, surgeons may include a psychological assessment for ascertaining the overall health of a patient, and to identify any risks that weight loss surgery could cause to mental health.
It is more likely that mental health screening is required as a duty of care, rather than to disqualify patients from weight loss surgery. Your weight loss surgery team will want to support your potential to lose Excess Body Weight and achieve success in your WLS journey.
Weight loss surgery & mental wellbeing
The weight loss surgery team will help you in preparing your physical fitness before undergoing the surgery. However, you need to be mentally ready to make the necessary behavioural changes to adopt a healthier relationship with food.
People eligible for surgery often have a history of depression and anxiety or binge eating disorders. Quite often mood and eating disorders are interrelated with some social problems that accompany obesity. Losing significant weight and reclaiming health after surgery can temporarily alleviate depression and anxiety related to living with obesity.
Useful links to mental health resources
Please seek and follow the specific guidelines from your bariatric team. Guidelines vary for individual patient needs and surgeries.