What is the biopsychosocial model of well-being, and how can it be implemented into my own life?
The biopsychosocial model, although it is certainly a mouthful to say, is a very useful model to implement into your everyday life. On the surface, it seems to be very complicated, but I will break it down so you can be confident in your ability to use this theory for your own personal benefit. But first, I would like to tell you my own personal story about how this model became important to me in my own life.
From elementary school all the way until I finished my first four years of college, I was certain that I wanted to practice medicine. And so at the time, I did everything that I thought was necessary in order to become a physician. I took several AP courses in high school, and when I started college, I chose biology as my major with a pre-med option. This curriculum was heavily focused on the biological aspects of health, including common conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, etc.. Although it is not intuitive to know about the biological basis of diseases, they are certainly fascinating to learn about!
After four years of college focused on the scientific foundations of the body, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, I became a medical scribe for a medical doctor in a nearby community. Basically, the term “medical scribe” is a fancy way of saying that I followed a doctor around with a computer and typed the important things that were discussed during a patient-physician interaction. The job was extremely stressful and demanding, and ultimately lead me to question my lifelong goal of becoming a doctor.
Although the job was stressful and only lasted six months, there were some critical observations made during my time scribing. The first one is that the majority of people had a physical complaint of some sort, and they expected that the doctor would know just what kind of pill or treatment the patient would need to take the discomfort away. If someone needs to be treated for conditions like diabetes or arthritis, then it makes perfect sense that a doctor prescribe a biological remedy to treat the disease.
But one question that I asked myself during every interaction that I documented was “is this the best way that this patient can be treated?” Considering that the doctor has much more expertise than me, and spent a significant amount of time in medical school and residency, I was fairly certain that the patient was getting the optimal care for their condition… Except for a few potential cases.
What about conditions such as anxiety or major depressive disorder? Although there are biological treatments such as anxiolytics and antidepressants at the doctors disposal, I also wondered about alternative treatments to these conditions. Is depression really a disease that somebody can realistically walk into a doctor’s office for, be given treatment or medication, and then go on their merry way? Is depression simply just about the absence of the conditions that cause depression? Or is their depression rooted in something that they are lacking, even though they are perfectly healthy otherwise?
This, my fellow dedicated readers, is where the biopsychosocial model comes in. There are three manageable components to the model if you break down the word itself. These are Bio, Psycho, and Social. So essentially, when the word biopsychosocial is used in the context of well-being, it suggests that there are biological, psychological, and sociological parts to well-being. The biological components of health are evident in the first part of the article, but it is also important to consider these other two elements. In regards to psychological factors, does the person feel that they have strong interpersonal relationships? Do they have a sense of belonging? Do they find meaning in their daily activities? Do they feel some sort of accomplishment? If they are lacking in any of these regards, along with countless other psychological factors, this could contribute to their perceived depressive state. This is why PERMA theory could tie very well into the biopsychosocial model of well-being (see “The Power of Positive Psychology” post if you so desire, link below). Sociological factors are important to consider as well. Is the person from an economically disadvantaged background? Is there peer group a good or bad influence on them? Is there trouble within the individual’s immediate family? Certainly, there are several other sociological or environmental considerations as well in addressing a patient’s depressive state.
Whew, that was definitely much more than I expected to write! I hope you found enjoyment in learning a bit about how several factors play into your well-being. There, unfortunately, is not a magic pill that guarantees to fix your depressive state altogether (though it could be helpful in some form). It is important to consider your own psychological factors and your sociological environment as well. This will be elaborated on much more in future posts, and hopefully I will be more succinct when I do so. I hope that you can recognize these factors for your own well-being! Feel free to comment below with any contributions you would like to make, and thank you for your dedication to finish reading this article!
Link to “The Power of Positive Psychology” post: