Reports of depression and sadness are not uncommon for people who have undergone gastric bypass, gastric lap-band, and gastric sleeve surgical procedures for the treatment of morbid obesity. While we often think that weight loss will end our depression and sadness these feelings linger long after the weight is gone. There are many treatments available for mild to severe depression. It is important for patients to work with their bariatric center, primary care doctors and a mental health professional as they seek treatment for depression. Below are common treatments, both medical and natural, for the treatment of depression.
Prescription Medication for Clinical Depression:
For clearly diagnosed clinical depression Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine, and citalopram are the primary medications considered, due to their relatively mild side effects and broad effect on the symptoms of depression and anxiety. These are prescribed by a doctor and closely monitored throughout the course of care for the patient.
Natural Treatment for Mild Depression:
For mild depression, what I call sadness, there are some things we can do to relieve the feelings of sadness or depression and hopefully reduce the cravings for carbohydrates that we so often experience.
While it is true that exercise plays a key role in our weight loss and weight maintenance, it is also known to improve mood. Studies indicate that regular exercise can be as effective a treatment for depression as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. The University of Texas at Austin found that just 40 minutes of regular exercise can have an immediate and positive effect on mood. The exercise does not need to be strenuous, just consistent. Additionally, exercise improves self-esteem thus enabling us to better cope with the everyday demands of living. Experts suggest we exercise in a natural setting, which has a positive effect on our mental health.
Herbs & Supplements:
5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and an intermediate in tryptophan metabolism. It is marketed in the United States and other countries as a dietary supplement for use as an antidepressant, appetite suppressant, and sleep aid.
St John's wort is most widely known as an herbal treatment for depression Standardized extracts are generally available over the counter, usually in tablet or capsule form. St. John's wort is also available as a tea. Studies indicate St. John's wort had similar efficacy to standard antidepressants with a lower rate of side effects.
Magnesium deficiency is common for many surgical weight loss patients and may cause depression. Supplementation or changes in diet may be helpful to improve magnesium deficiency. Foods rich in magnesium include whole grains, beans and seeds, halibut and spinach. Magnesium supplements are also commonly available.
Depression is commonly associated with poor sleep - difficulty going to sleep, early waking and general lassitude during the day. The two interact to worsen the condition of each other. Good sleep hygiene is therefore important to help break this vicious circle. This would include measures such as regular bed times, avoidance of stimulants such as caffeine and management of disturbances such as sleep apnea.
Meditation has been shown to be of benefit in a number of ways, including lowering blood pressure and stress levels. The most helpful and gentle form of meditation for a clinically depressed person may be the repetition-silently or aloud-of a mantra.