If you are a candidate for bariatric surgery, you are probably aware that there is a requirement to get a psychological evaluation done before getting the operation. Let’s demystify this process for you a little bit. What’s it all about? How does it work? How much does it cost?
Why is a Psychological Evaluation for Bariatric Surgery Needed?
Bariatric surgery represents a tremendous advance in medical science that has allowed many people with obesity problems to drop significant amounts of weight and greatly improve their lives. However, it is still not the magic bullet that some people wish it was. You can’t eat food that is too unhealthy, too much, too often, and then get bariatric surgery to drop the weight and continue about your usual habits! That won’t work very well to address your weight problem.
Rather, the surgery is just the most drastic intervention among a host of lifestyle changes that need to take place. And here’s where the psychological evaluation comes in: doctors wants to ensure that you are aware of this, that you understand the ramifications of undertaking these changes, and that you are prepared to accept and maintain them.
What Questions Will I be Asked?
The changes you’ll need to make include a potentially radical modification of your diet, exercise habits, drug usage (including prescription medications, tobacco, and alcohol), and more. Making sure you have a realistic understanding of these changes is critical to the success of the operation in the long term.
The specifics of these changes will be covered extensively by your doctor; we won’t be teaching you about these requirements, but we will be assessing your ability to comply with them. Some red flags we will inquire about include the use food as a coping mechanism; addictions; minimization of the lifestyle changes needed; and others.
Further questions we will ask you in the psychological evaluation for bariatric surgery revolve around your general mental health and your life situation. For example, if you suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, that may have a significant impact on your ability to follow through with your postoperative requirements. Similarly, if you are experiencing a major life stressor – a recent divorce or death of a family member – this too might affect your mental stability for a time, and it may be important to consider this as a factor in the timing of your decision to move forward. Your home and work environments and the state of your relationships with be important subjects for us to explore as well. (See https://asmbs.org/patients/life-after-bariatric-surgery to read more about these issues.)
What’s the Process for Getting a Psychological Evaluation?
Fortunately, this part is pretty straightforward. You can give us a call or text at 443-598-2821 and let us know you need to set up an evaluation. That’s all it takes! We frequently are able to get patients in the same or next day. The evaluation lasts about 30 minutes, give or take, depending on what we hear over the course of the interview, and costs $120. (We do not take insurance for this procedure.)
If we believe you are psychologically ready to go ahead with the surgery, within 1-2 days we will provide you with a formal written report clearing you to move forward. If we have any concerns about your readiness we will discuss these with you before preparing a report. Sometimes we recommend ongoing counseling to help a person manage the stresses that come with this lifestyle change. Rarely, we will recommend against doing the surgery if any major red flags have been raised. All of this will be discussed between you and your counselor; we do not go over your head to your doctor without your knowledge.
If you have any further questions about getting a psychological evaluation for bariatric counseling, or wish to set up an appointment, please contact us today!
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