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HIBERNATION SYNDROME (AFTER WLS)

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  • #30177
    Ms Ellie
    Member

    HIBERNATION SYNDROME

    After WLS, you may be feeling tired and become depressed. When you are several weeks post op, and are either on a liquid diet or you are eating many fewer calories than you were pre op, this depression and inactivity can become more pronounced.

    All you want to do is sleep, you may have crying spells, you may begin to believe that the surgery was a mistake, or you may think ‘what in the world have I done to myself?

    All these feelings are completely normal and, to a certain extent, are to be expected. The low number of calories you are eating produces what many of us call the ‘hibernation syndrome’ and your depression and feelings of despair,are a direct result.

    During the weeks immediately following surgery, our body starts to notice that we are not taking in enough calories. It doesn’t know we’ve had WLS, or that it’s the year 2000. Our body is missing food, thinks this is a famine, and struggles to conserve our energy. The human body reacts like it always has in a famine; it makes us depressed–so we don’t have the motivation to do anything, and it makes us tired–so we don’t have the energy to do anything. In this way, we will conserve as many calories as possible and remain alive.

    You can see the practical value of this as our bodies have been living through famines, snowstorms, and other periods of unstable food supply for centuries.

    This stage can last several weeks. Our discomfort is compounded as we are, at this same time, trying to recover from major surgery, adopt new eating habits, and deal with a liquid or soft diet. To get out of this stage, our body has to say to itself ‘gee, this famine is lasting a bit too long. If I keep conserving my energy with inactivity, I will starve to death. I’d better use my last store of energy (the remaining fat and muscles in our body) to hunt up some food’. At this point, our body will switch from getting energy from food, to getting energy from our fat (and muscle too if we don’t eat enough protein and that is what we want.

    In order to deal with this difficult transition period, tell yourself that you’re right on track; this is exactly what is normal and to be expected.

    Tell yourself that, in a few weeks, this will pass, and you will feel like a completely new person. We all seem to turn the corner about 4-6 weeks post op. Then, your mood will lighten and, with your weight loss starting to add up, you’ll feel more positive and have a better outlook on life. Just keep telling yourself that you will not always feel this way! You WILL be back to feeling like your old self. Just give it time!

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