Bariatrics, Obesity and Health Behaviours

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Many people are in a battle with weight and are sick of the fight. For some individuals addressing the underlying psychological issues related to weight management can prove highly effective. For others bariatric surgery assists to gain control as well addressing unhelpful patterns. Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for morbid obesity. The majority of patients experience excess weight loss and improvement in psychological functioning. However, there is a proportion of people who may struggle as a result of long standing issues and therefore surgery alone is insufficient.

Factors such as dysfunctional eating patterns, depression and anxiety as well as poor self-esteem can impact upon weight. Addressing psychological issues either pre or post surgery, can facilitate weight loss and improve mental health. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been found to be effective in assisting with gaining control of weight as well as depression, anxiety and self-esteem.

Seeking psychological assistance involves a thorough assessment to create a formulation. A formulation helps us to understand who you are and how you have found yourself with the problems you experience. This then enables you and the psychologist to address issues using evidence based techniques to address issues impacting on quality of life.

What is CBT?

CBT is an effective treatment approach to help people identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and to learn practical self-help strategies. CBT highlights that thoughts, feelings and behaviours all impact upon each other. Each of the areas are addressed and evidence based strategies are taught to bring about control and positive change.

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Learning to be aware of how to mange each of these areas (Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours) is valuable for weight management. If we can influence each of the areas or even have greater awareness in one of these areas (thoughts, feelings or behaviours) then we have a better chance at gaining control. Behaviour changes are referred to as one of the hardest things to do. So it's important to address each area to create healthy and good habits. Considering the behavioural aspects of health to assist in creating new good habits is important. Our thoughts are also critical.

CBT believes that our internal dialogue or “chatter” is very important in regards to what we do and how we feel. Many people aren’t aware of of their internal chatter and CBT skills enable people to learn to listen to their inner dialogue.The next step is to only have the chatter that is helpful rather than unhelpful. Once we learn to listen to our chatter, understand how it is making us feel, then we can change it where appropriate and influence our behaviours.

A classic example of CBT is when someone presents feeling depressed (Feeling), they may have watched TV and eaten something unhealthy (Behaviour) and then they think to themselves (Thoughts) “argh …I’ve got all that stuff to do and I just can’t seem to start it, What's wrong with me? I ate those chips I said I was going to be healthy argh”. How might they feel? They may feel depressed, angry or sad and so the cycle may continue. A negative behaviour, a negative thought and a negative feeling.

Psychological Factors Important to Weight Management

Food serves many purposes other than just keeping us alive. How do you use food?

Below are some questions and concepts to consider with a psychologist who specialises in the area of bariatrics. These are issues that we find particularly helpful to explore and expand to enable greater awareness and long-term control over health. Furthermore, many of these concepts overlap each other so addressing one will most likely influence others. It is also valuable to consider the purpose food serves as after surgery you will need new coping methods.

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About Us and Our Clinical Bariatric Team

Clear Health Psychology is a private psychology practice with four locations in Mount Lawley, Claremont, Subiaco and Fremantle. We have a dedicated team of experienced psychologists with a broad range of specialisations, expert knowledge in the area of weight management and the emotional issues that relate to this area.

Our team can provide you with practical, effective and confidential support. All members of our practicing team are registered Psychologists, with a passion to empower their clients to learn strategies to assist them with their present challenges and for the future.

Identifying and learning how to work with emotions is a life skill that we don't get taught. It takes a very brave person to say "I've had enough of the way I was doing things and I need a team around to support me to make changes in my life". The team at Clear Health Psychology are highly experienced in this journey and together we will work to support you.