BACKGROUND: About 20% of adolescents experience substantial mental health problems after bariatric surgery.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore differences between adolescents with poor mental health (PMH) 2 years after surgery and those with average/good mental health.
SETTING: Three university hospitals in Sweden.
METHODS: Mental health and health-related quality of life were assessed in 82 of 88 adolescents (mean age: 16.8 yr, 67% female) at baseline and 1 and 2 years after laparoscopic gastric bypass. Possible associations among mental health, weight, and biochemical outcomes were explored.
RESULTS: Two years after surgery 16 (20%) adolescents were identified as having PMH. More symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse mental health at baseline significantly predicted PMH 2 years later. The decline in mental health for the PMH group happened mainly during the second year after surgery. Suicidal ideation was reported in 14% of the total sample 2 years postsurgery and was more frequent in the PMH group. Weight outcomes between groups were comparable at all time points, and physical health was equally improved 2 years after surgery.
CONCLUSIONS: Although adolescents with PMH after surgery lose as much weight and have similar improvements in physical health compared with other adolescents, special attention should be given to adolescents who report mental health problems at baseline and follow-up, especially during the second year after gastric bypass. The high prevalence of suicidal ideation in adolescents 2 years after bariatric surgery is another indication that longer follow-up is necessary.