My definition of health is the overall effectiveness of your body’s normal functions to maintain homeostasis (ie. fighting infection, breathing, circulation, body temperature, etc.). This is affected by diet and exercise as well as foreign organisms and other environmental factors.
My definition of illness is any physiological and/or psychological variances from homeostasis that are caused by foreign organisms or other environmental factors. This could include infection, anxiety, anorexia, etc.
My reasoning behind deciding these definitions for “health” and “illness” was mainly based on what I have learned from school these past few years. Before college, I based my idea of health mainly on weight. I never really thought about whether I was living a healthy lifestyle or not since I was involved in sports most of the year. After taking several college courses for Human Bio and struggling a little more with weight since I was no longer involved in high school sports, I’ve gained a lot of insight on what health really is to me and how much contributes to my health, from the molecular level to outside factors.
Two conditions that I thought were more difficult to decide whether they were an illness or not are anxiety and menstruation. I strongly believe that anxiety, along with depression and other mental “illnesses” are something that everyone experiences as a normal human being. Though I do believe there are severe cases that need more medical attention than others, I think if you are living a healthy way of life – exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, etc. – levels of anxiety and depression should be normal. However, if you are not exercising regularly, eating right, etc. your body’s balance is thrown off. For example, I have a sister who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her periods of depression were strongly associated with late nights, drinking, smoking, etc. When she cut down on those activities, started exercising more, and tried to maintain a more regular schedule, her symptoms became much less severe.
At first I never would have thought of menstruation as an illness, however, having had extremely severe menstrual symptoms before, it was difficult for me to decide whether or not this is an illness or not. After some deliberation, I decided that if menstruation doesn’t take away from your normal day to day activities it’s not an illness. However, if menstrual symptoms are so severe you are unable to participate in normal activities, I believe menstruation could definitely be considered an illness.