Does your primary physician pay as much attention to the social and emotional factors affecting your life, as they do to your test results and vital signs?
Or—do you feel like you’re shuffled in and out of the door, like a line of cattle?
If the latter… listen closely.
It shouldn’t be unusual to spend more than 15 minutes in your doctor’s office. In fact, I encourage that you do so!
Every story is different
As many of my long-standing patients can attest to, my patient visits often turn into counseling sessions. I spend as much time with each patient as necessary. As a result, I really get to understand what’s going on in my patients’ lives, and how that might be affecting their perception of health.
This is crucial because it’s necessary to look for the underlying reason(s) behind common health issues. After all, our entire body plays a role in how healthy we are—and how healthy we feel.
Now, more than ever, our well-being is intrinsically tied to what’s going on around us. And I can tell you that the unpredictable environment, the constantly changing rules, and the enormous amounts of unending stress are absolutely taking their toll—in one way or the other.
In fact, I recently had one patient who has had the time of his life during the pandemic. He got to spend more time at his country home, with his child and with his wife, while still managing his business remotely.
Yet, only an hour later, I saw another patient who was suffering from memory loss. She was convinced it was dementia—but it turned out to be a symptom of the enormous pressures she’s under, having to work from home while juggling family and remote schooling without any downtime.
As I wrote about not too long ago, each of us will have our own pandemic story to tell. And that reality added an extra dimension of interest to the research I want to share today, which shows that being overweight leads to depression—and that social factors play as big of a role as physical ones in this association.
Both physical and social factors matter
We all know the physical dangers of being obese by now. But as this large-scale study shows, being overweight can also have a major impact on mental health.
The new study appeared in the journal Human Molecular Genetics. And it used genetic analysis to investigate whether the link between obesity and depression is tied to psychosocial pathways (like societal influences and social stigma) or physical pathways (like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease).
They looked at two sets of genetic variants (which I honestly didn’t know existed until today).
One set makes people fatter, but metabolically healthierؙ—meaning they are less likely to develop the metabolic conditions above. The other set of genes make people fatter and metabolically unhealthy—and more susceptible to those health conditions.
As it turns out, the researchers found no significant difference between the influence of either set of genetic variants. This suggests that both physical and external social factors play a role in the higher rates of depression among obese people.
In other words—what’s going on around you, in your personal life, is every bit as important to your health as your physical lifestyle choices.
And I have to say, it feels good to know that the support I offer my patients and readers in losing weight benefits their mental and physical health. Because in these uncertain times, we all need as much help as we can get.
P.S. If you’re still struggling with the uncertainty and chaos of this pandemic, allow me to offer some hope and positivity. Because if you take a step back and look to the past, history shows us that—like all things—this, too, shall pass. I explain more in the February 2021 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“A light at the end of the tunnel”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one today!