One of the challenges some patients face after weight loss surgery is a condition described as the hibernation syndrome. This is a group of symptoms that include feeling fatigued, depressed and lack of motivation to do any physical activity. Patients often feel upset and become plagued by thoughts that the surgery was as mistake.. This can be quite alarming to patients recovering from the surgery and recognizing the signs assist in getting over this stage in recovery.
Hibernation syndrome is common in the first few weeks after the surgery. It is caused by the low number of calories being consumed and the reduced activity associated with this time of healing. The body perceives that it is starving and triggers an evolutionary response that has helped humans survive famines. The main aim of the response is to slow us down to conserve energy and thus resulting in; tiredness, need for sleep, lack of motivation and depression. It is important to understand that these symptoms are normal and will pass with time.
Most patients notice improvement in their symptoms around 4-6 weeks after the operation and the improvement is brought by increasing protein in the diet, taking the multivitamin tablets, increasing the metabolic rate with exercise and return to work and the encouragement patients get as they shed the extra weight. A supportive family member or friend is a great help during this time.