Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Weight loss surgery is a journey that requires more than just physical changes. It involves emotional and mental transformations as well. Sometimes, the emotional and mental aspects of this journey can be overwhelming, and it’s okay to seek help. In fact, it’s highly recommended. Therapy is an effective way to help you cope with the changes and challenges that come with WLS. In this blog post, we’ll talk about the real scenarios of why people go to therapy after WLS, tips on what conversations to consider, and why therapy should be an essential part of your post-WLS journey.
1) Why consider therapy post-WLS? The benefits of therapy after weight loss surgery are numerous. First, it can help you cope with the psychological stressors of adjusting to a dramatically different body. This can include feelings of self-disgust, grief for the old you, and uncertainty about how to stay healthy and maintain your weight loss long-term. Therapy can help you process these emotions and develop new coping strategies.
Second, therapy can help you address any deeper underlying issues that may have contributed to your weight gain in the first place. For example, if you use food to cope with anxiety or depression, therapy can help you develop new tools and healthy habits to manage these emotions more constructively.
2) Conversations to consider having with a therapist. When you start therapy after weight loss surgery, there are a few key topics you may want to discuss with your therapist. These include:
- Body dysmorphia: Many people who undergo weight loss surgery struggle with feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction with their bodies, even after significant weight loss. A therapist can help you develop a more positive body image and work through these feelings of self-doubt.
- Eating disorder recovery: If you've struggled with disordered eating in the past, therapy can help you continue to build a healthier relationship with food and your body. Your therapist can help you stay mindful of hunger and fullness cues, develop a more balanced approach to nutrition, and avoid triggers that may lead to binging or restriction.
- Personal relationships: Weight loss surgery can sometimes strain personal relationships, as friends and family may not understand the challenges you're facing. A therapist can help you navigate these dynamics and communicate more effectively with loved ones.
- Mental health: Whether you've struggled with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition in the past (or are experiencing new symptoms after surgery), therapy can be a helpful tool for managing these issues. Your therapist can help you identify healthy coping mechanisms and support you as you learn to manage your symptoms more effectively.
3) Tips for having effective therapy sessions. To make the most of your therapy sessions after weight loss surgery, try implementing these tips:
- Be honest and open with your therapist. Remember, they are there to support and help you achieve your goals. They can only do that if they have all the information they need.
- Set specific, measurable goals for your therapy. For example, you might set a goal to work on your body dysmorphia and then outline specific behaviors or thought patterns you'd like to address.
- Be patient with yourself. Making major life changes and processing difficult emotions takes time. Don't expect to see immediate results, but trust in the process and be kind to yourself along the way.
- Practice self-care in between therapy sessions. This might include taking some time for yourself to relax or engage in activities that bring you joy. Also, keep your body healthy by exercising regularly, eating whole foods, and staying hydrated.
Weight loss surgery can be a transformative and exciting journey, but it's not without its challenges. Seeking support from a therapist can be an important part of your post-surgery journey, helping you to navigate complex emotions and develop new coping strategies. Whether you're struggling with body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, personal relationships, or other issues, therapy can provide you with the tools and guidance you need to thrive in your new body and your new life. Often, your success depends on it.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.