Dr. Northrup attended medical school at the University of South Florida. After training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Florida he made his way back to the Bay area. Dr. Northrup practices at the interface of mind and body using a whole patient approach to help people find their best quality of life. From coaching techniques to psychotherapy to medications, Dr. Northrup is expert with a full array of tools to help people live the best life possible. His practice is located in a comfortable renovated south Tampa bungalow.
In addition to psychiatry, Dr. Northrup practices in addiction and weight management. Dr. Northrup embodies his own approach to patient care by keeping himself healthy with portion control, strength training, and playing sports.
How long have you lived in the Tampa Bay Area?
I have lived in Tampa since 2002.
What is your favorite Tampa Bay restaurant?
We have so many good restaurants, but I find myself partial to Charley’s Steak House.
Where is your favorite place in Tampa Bay to relax?
My backyard. I spent a year designing the pool and outdoor kitchen. Now, I am enjoying it. Come on over.
What is your favorite event to attend in Tampa Bay?
Again, we are very fortunate to have so many wonderful choices. We have great organizations and our own citywide festival of Gasparilla. My favorite event, although still somewhat in its infancy, is Cars and Couture by Luxe Fashion Group. They just do a fantastic job.
What is the name of your favorite book that you read this year?
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. It is a hilarious tale of a girl’s dysfunctional family. She put the FUN in dysfunctional.
You are a board-certified general and forensic psychiatrist. You also practice weight management and treat addictions. Do each of the areas that you practice relate to one another and if so, how?
These are so intimately interconnected. I treat obesity as a process addiction. Food is an inherent reward to the brain and then we as a society reinforce this with food treats for a doing a good job or to soothe a scraped knee, etc.
Food, especially highly palatable food, has a language and machinery similar to other addictions as evidenced by terms like “food cravings” and “chocoholic.” Additionally, failed diets are failed attempts to control overeating (like failures at quitting smoking), preoccupation with food and shame over eating behaviors are again similar to traditional addictions.
Is good nutrition essential for our mental health and why?
Yes. The body needs certain nutrients in certain quantities to function its best. And the brain is the control center for all the processes; so you certainly want it running at its finest!
Are there a number of mental health conditions that may be influenced by dietary factors and if so what are some of them and why?
Severe vitamin deficiencies can present as gross mental health problems involving cognition and mood. However, most people living in developed countries don’t suffer these maladies. Instead, there are more subtle changes that can be influenced by Omega 3 balance and other nutritional factors.
What major health conditions are related to being overweight?
It’s funny, many people will lose weight for aesthetic reasons as the results are tangible and obvious to the eye. However, obesity is a risk factor for conditions that kill people regularly, such as heart disease. But, a person cannot look in the mirror and see their shortened life span. Additionally, weight affects diabetes, which again shortens life span and can substantially hinder day to day quality of life.
What are some of the simplest but important daily lifestyle changes we can make in order to sustain a mentally and healthy balanced life?
I could write a book in response to this question, but I’ll try to be succinct.
- Manage your stress level…learn not to sweat the small stuff.
- Listen to biological cues. For example, eat when your body says it’s hungry and stop when it tells you it’s had enough. People have learned to ignore biological cues in favor of social cues and other stimuli.
- Get some kind of physical activity. The brain likes the body to be active.
What advice would you give to other physicians in regard to discussing weight management with their patients?
- First, have the discussion at all. I think many primary care physicians are now doing this.
- Help patients make a short term plan. The question of what are you going to do differently now. And more importantly, help patients make a reasonable, long term plan that includes some simple rules they can apply consistently. People have to change their relationship with food to have long lasting results.