Before you start the process of undergoing gastric bypass surgery or another similar bariatric surgery, you have to undergo an extensive process to ensure you’re mentally and physically capable of having the surgery. During this time, a qualified psychologist performs a mental health test to see if you can handle the surgery and if you’re truly ready to lose weight.
Reasons for a Psychological Assessment for Weight Loss Surgery
You might wonder why you have to undergo a mental evaluation to have bariatric surgery, considering you aren’t having the surgery because you have a mental disorder. For one, your insurance company requires it. This is an expensive surgery for an insurance company to cover, so they want to ensure you have the right mind frame to lose weight from the procedure.
During the psychological test, a specialist determines if you’re mentally strong enough to handle the surgery and take the necessary steps afterward to change your life.
The evaluation is the ideal time for the psychiatrist to gather information about your current habits and any attempts you’ve made in the past.
Keep in mind, if you have a mental disorder, it may not harm your eligibility, depending on what it is and if you have it under control.
What Kinds of Questions Are Part of the Psychological Evaluation?
During your mental health test, the psychologist requests information to determine your strengths and weaknesses in terms of weight loss. By identifying them, he or she helps you find the support you need before and after the surgery.
A portion of the psychological testing consists of discussing your current eating habits and diet history to determine if you’ve tried other methods in the past and why they didn’t work. The psychiatrist asks you to share your goals and post-surgery plans to assess if you have the right reasons for having the surgery as well as a plan for after the procedure.
The psychiatrist determines if you have, or had, any psychiatric issues and the treatment you’re receiving or have received. The psychiatrist may connect you to a specialist to address your mental health needs so you’re eligible for the test.
What Types of Psychiatric Conditions Affect Your Eligibility?
If you have anxiety or depression, it doesn’t mean you can’t have the surgery. In fact, those are quite normal and don’t always negatively impact the outcome of your procedure. However, if you have any type of compulsive disorder that could cause you to return to old eating habits after the procedure, you may need treatment or you can’t have the surgery.
Usually, if you’re on any medications for mental health disorders, you can still take the medication after the procedure. You may need a different prescription if you’re currently taking a time-released drug because of how your body processes these types of medications after the procedure.
You more than likely need to have a test to determine if you have a drug or alcohol addiction, but even these issues may not affect your eligibility.
Are You Able to Choose Your Own Psychiatrist?
To ensure accurate results of your psychological test, you have to use a psychiatrist of the facility’s choosing. Most people are eligible for the procedure, so there’s no need to worry that another practitioner won’t deem you an acceptable candidate.
Another reason why a psychiatrist is chosen for you is because not every mental health specialist has training in performing this evaluation. By choosing one for you, it’s a guarantee that the psychiatrist can help you prepare for the surgery.
What Happens After Your Psychiatric Evaluation?
The next phase consists of tests to decide if you’re healthy enough to undergo the surgery. For instance, you need to have blood tests that include a complete blood cell count, chemistry panel, and lipid profile. The testing helps to determine if you have an infection or any other health problems that could interfere with the surgery.
You also need to have an EKG and urinalysis. You have to undergo a cardio echogram to make sure your heart is strong enough to undergo a general anesthetic.
After your psychiatric evaluation, you need to have a sleep study, as well. If you have any severe issues with breathing while you sleep, it could negatively impact the procedure.
You need to have a colonoscopy to make sure you don’t have tumors or any other issues in your digestive tract that could affect the procedure.
If you’re a female, your surgeon requires you to undergo a gynecological exam prior to the surgery. During the test, you need to have a pelvic exam and pap smear. Women over the age of 40 need to have a mammogram if they haven’t had one within the past year.