Weight Loss Surgery Reverses Declining Mental Health

Depressed and grappling with rapid weight gain following her parents’ deaths, Rebecca Rym needed a lifeline. The Lorain County server contacted hospitals in Northeast Ohio, but her calls went unanswered – until she reached University Hospitals Parma Medical Center.

Ms. Rym found that struggles with mental illness don’t automatically cancel out a chance of redemption with weight loss surgery at UH Parma Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery & Nutrition Center. Part of UH’s Digestive Health Institute, this program provides surgical and medical weight loss options for long-term weight loss.

Rebecca Rym pictured before and after weight loss procedures

“We screen our patients for significant cardiac, pulmonary and other medical problems but a detailed psychological evaluation is also of paramount importance,” says bariatric surgeon Mujjahid Abbas, MD, who says he is very pleased with Ms. Rym’s success.

“Surgical procedures are tailored to a patient’s medical history with the overall clinical and social picture in mind,” he says. “We do not eliminate anybody due to a certain diagnosis, but we are careful in selecting patients who will benefit most from surgery.”

Path To Obesity

Relatively fit in high school, Ms. Rym ran cross country and worked as a server while attending college. The pounds crept on over time, slipping past 200 pounds to an eventual peak of 300 pounds. When her parents, who were overweight, passed away, her already fragile mental state spiraled down into a deep depression.

“I always turned to food,” says the Port Clinton woman, 33, whose twin sister also struggles with obesity. “The satisfaction from food used to make me feel good. But it was out of control.”

She began actively considering bariatric surgery after a heart attack killed her father. When brain cancer claimed her mother’s life, Ms. Rym was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. She feared she would not clear the mental screening for weight loss surgery, once she had determined it was her only hope.

UH Parma Medical Center answered her call.

A Plan for Success

Clinical dietitian Dina Corrao conducts the initial nutritional assessment, discussing eating habits including identifying possible eating disorders, addressing food allergies and exercise habits, and gauging the patient’s ability to adhere to the diet and rules after surgery. Ms. Corrao provides a meal plan to prepare the patient for life-altering surgery.

“Rebecca has done – and continues to do – an amazing job,” says Ms. Corrao. “Our guidelines ensure that our patients can be successful after surgery. She has followed all of the post-op diet guidelines and is doing great, getting closer and closer to her goal.”

No longer does Ms. Rym gorge on fast food at multiple stops or consume an entire pizza at a single sitting. She can breeze through her workday without dripping sweat minutes after starting. She avoids breads, pasta, soft drinks and sweets.

Most important, her sleep apnea, hypertension and high cholesterol have resolved. She believes she no longer needs bipolar medicine and takes just a fraction of the antidepressants that were once a staple of her day.

Putting on her FitBit is a now the pivotal point in her morning routine.

Starting Good Habits

“I didn’t go through surgery to go back to bad habits,” says Ms. Rym, whose weight has dropped well below 200 pounds for the first time since high school.

“I can breathe, I can tie my shoes, I can cross my legs again,” she says. “I sleep much better now. Having surgery at UH Parma Medical Center has allowed me to get my life back.”

Dr. Abbas encourages a candid conversation with patients about their entire medical and mental condition before committing to surgery.

“We encourage patients with any mental health issues to discuss it with us without hesitation, and we decide what would be best for the patient based on their overall clinical scenario and input from their mental healthcare provider,” Dr. Abbas says. “Safety and long-term success are our primary goals.”

Related Links

To learn more about weight loss options at UH Parma Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery & Nutrition Center, call 440-743-2905 or attend an information session from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 or Dec. 8 in the UH Parma Medical Center’s Auditorium. Call 216-844-5274 to register or watch the online seminar.