The definition I made of health is “physical and mental well-being”. The definition I came up with for illness is “an alteration in the physical or mental well-being of a person.” I used these definitions because I feel they touch on the aspects of humans that are able to be healthy or not – physically and mentally.  I used the definition I chose for illness because usually a person is healthy until their health is altered by something. However, now that I know the actual definition of an illness, I know this is not the case.

I think I got these ideas from every aspect that could have possibly contributed. In school, I learned about health through physical education and eating correctly, not smoking, not doing drugs, etc. These same ideologies were taught to me through society and the media as well, mostly focusing on how proper health is about keeping a toned body and eating right. However, when being taught about these things, I noticed I’ve never really been taught about mental health and how to maintain proper mental health, or what adequate mental health even is for that matter.

The two conditions I chose to analyze were insomnia and migraines. Insomnia was difficult for me to decide on whether it was an illness or a disease. My reasoning for this is because insomnia seems like a disease because it’s treated like one. There are different medications to treat insomnia so it seems like a viable option. However, I think insomnia is an illness. If a person has trouble sleeping, falling asleep, or they feel a little groggy upon waking up, it’s not uncommon for people to think they have insomnia. Insomnia focuses more on perception and mental state than actually not being able to sleep. For example, it could be because of an uncomfortable bed, stress, etc.

I classified migraines as a disease. Unlike headaches, migraines are more severe. Migraines aren’t headaches. Sometimes when people get headaches, which I would classify as an illness, people think they have migraines. Migraines, however, are diseases in the sense that they will occur whether a person feels symptoms or not.

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  1. Matt Waldrop says:

    Hi Elaina –

    First off, I agree with both of your diagnosis. I would perceive insomnia as an illness and migraines as a disease. Migraines are prevalent throughout my family, and it seems obvious to me that they are more of a disease. Thankfully I have never experienced one (knock on wood). Insomnia is definitely difficult to categorize due to it showing characteristics of both disease and illness. I found an article that describes the prevalence and treatment of insomnia in Canada. The article concluded that “Insomnia is a prevalent condition, although few people seek professional consultation for this condition. Despite regional differences in the prevalence and treatments used to manage insomnia, prescribed medications remain the most widely used therapeutic option.” It seems in Canada, they do take insomnia very seriously, and define it as the trouble or dissatisfaction with sleep. I thought it was interesting that of the people who reported to have sleep problems, only 13% went to go see a healthcare provider at least once. It seems to me that the Canadian population might not see insomnia as an illness, and therefore, fail to seek treatment. It also looks as though it is treated primarily through medication, when it seems to me medication might not solve the problem.

    Morin, Charles M, PhD et al., “Prevalence of Insomnia and Its Treatment in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry Sep 56-9 (2011): 540-548, accessed July 4, 2013,

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