The Relationships Remedy is a collection of poignant stories, from the front-lines of modern medical care, about the devastation of social isolation and the lifesaving power of human connections.

Medical doctors are trained to interview new patients for a “social history,” which traditionally focuses on social habits: “Do you drink alcohol? Smoke cigarettes? Use illicit drugs?” But a growing body of research suggests that social relationships—with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors—are just as influential to your health as drugs or medications. Specifically, it is perceived social isolation, or the subjective feeling of loneliness, that amps up inflammation and weakens the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infections and illness. It is also genuine human connection—empathy, compassion, and inclusion—that can help prevent illness and lengthen life.

My name is Kate Otto Chebly, and I am a medical doctor who believes that effectively treating my patients’ illnesses includes understanding (and bolstering) their social support networks. On this blogI share heartfelt anecdotes from my patients’ lives*, weaving in recent research about social isolation and human health. My goal is to encourage you, reader, to rethink your everyday social interactions as a means to achieve lasting health and longevity.

*In all stories, I have changed the names and other identifying and demographic features of my patients in order to protect their identity and privacy.