Trying to lose weight? Don’t forget your mental health.

Trying to lose weight? Don’t forget your mental health.

When you’re losing weight, you may think you only need to focus on the physical aspects. But many kinds of medical treatment, including obesity and weight maintenance, also require an accompanying emphasis on mental wellness.

“We place such an importance on psychological wellness because treatments for obesity, whether medication or surgical options, do not work alone,” said Dr. Allen Mikhail, bariatric surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. “By themselves, these interventions will not address overall health in the long term.”

Obesity surgery or medication is more successful and sustainable when a patient also embraces a healthy identity, he said.

“If we feel empty and ineffective, we tend to eat empty and ineffective foods, which tend to be low nutrient, high sugar and highly processed,” he said, adding that patients who are obese attempt to treat themselves more often than those with other conditions.

“While people often realize that healthy diet and exercise would accompany any sound weight loss program, many don’t also think to professionally address their mental health,” he said.

Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, are all common in this patient population, Mikhail said. Some people may also need additional supports through a therapist or psychologist, and he emphasized the importance of bringing up mental health issues with your doctor.

“Addressing the whole person will ultimately lead to better health,” he said.

For general stress management, Mikhail often recommends easy-to-implement coping strategies because “not having a healthy outlet to control stress can be a roadblock to wellness.”

Examples of healthy coping habits include meditation, prayer, reading, exercise, journaling and spending time with friends and family.

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  1. Thank you for emphasizing emotional wellbeing as a part of total wellness. It is not often that this is relayed to and discussed with patients as a part of the treatment plan. Its articles like these that get the conversations started and help decrease some of the shame often associated with weight issues and using food to cope.

  2. This is so true! Emotional eating and stress are huge causes of obesity. Thanks to our employer, Advocate Aurora employees/spouses with our insurance qualify for free Noom or Weight Watchers programs if we are over our ideal BMI. I encourage you to take advantage of Noom. I’m down 15 lbs and my husband is down 30 since March 17. We have a whole new look at food and why we eat, what we eat and how we eat it.

About the Author

Urwah Mirza
Urwah Mirza

Urwah Mirza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Aurora Health. She is a senior at Loyola University studying Healthcare Administration. Throughout her undergrad experiences she has volunteered at multiple healthcare centers working with patients as well as healthcare workers and students creating activities and strategies for the community. She enjoys spending her time creating new coffee drinks and exploring new parts of the city.