I originally defined health as being “disease free” and feeling physically well. I also defined illness as having a particular disease and not feeling physically well. After watching the lectures and reading the articles, I realized that my definition of health should be somewhat revised and also include being of sound mind, body and spirit. Therefore, my revised definition of illness is “having a certain disease, whether mental, emotional or physical, that interfere’s with one’s life and how they are able to function.” This definition of illness would include all mental and emotional illnesses as well, such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders etc. Therefore, anxiety would be an illness. Anxiety does interfere with one’s everyday life and affects them mentally, emotionally and physically. Anxiety is also a condition that we cannot always control like most other physical diseases. I believe that we learn these definitions of health and illness from our family and peers when we are young, and we carry these beliefs with us throughout our life even if it is subconsciously. We are also very much influenced by the media whether we realize it or not. In the past and somewhat still today, a lot of television shows portrayed mental illness in patients very negatively and those patients were seen as “sick,” but being not mentally stable. So our understanding of illness became being physically (not mentally) sick or not, and we did not see those with mental illness as equal to us or other people with an actual “disease.” Depression would also be considered an illness. Depression affects one’s mind and body while also making it difficult to function in society. I believe if more people had the same views of health and illness, then those suffering from mental and emotional diseases would not be seen differently than other people who are ill. There would not be a stigma attached to mental illness like there is in some areas today.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. saarine3 says:

    I think you raise a really great point about the social stigma involved with mental illness. It’s almost like people in the US see mental illness as either something that isn’t severe enough so it shouldn’t be considered an illness or so severe that the person is crazy. That stigma is defiantly something that needs to be worked on in and corrected. Your post got me thinking about if this stigma was similar around the world with S.A.D. and for the most part the rates of S.A.D. are much higher in the US and UK than Asian countries for example. In Japan for example they don’t have just one term for S.A.D. they also have Taijin Kyofusho (TKS), which instead of being embarrassed of themselves they are worried about embarrassing others. They view Social anxiety as not just one type of disease rather they see them as many different variations. This is pretty much the opposite of what happens in the US as we tend to think of social Anxiety as an excuse to take some medication. We try to solve the problem through medication, and they look further into the causes and preventative measures. So that is just a look at how different cultures view Anxiety.

    Cuncic, Arlin. “How Do Different Cultures Experience Social Anxiety Disorder?.” Social Anxiety Disorder. (accessed July 7, 2014).

  2. Maureen John says:

    Your definition of illness and disease gave me a better understanding of their differences. I had a hard time figuring out the distinction between the two. I also believe that anxiety is an emotional illness that can affect different areas of a persons life. I personally know a handful of people who suffer from anxiety. Their day to day activities are defined by their level of anxiety and how well they cope with it. Anxiety can affect not only the emotional, but physical aspect of your life as well. The stress that many anxiety patients endure can lead to other physical stress.

    I also do believe we learn the definition of health from our surroundings when we are young. From our families, we learn that when a family member is not healthy they are admitted to the hospital or they look like they have lost a lot of weight to the point where they do not look like themselves. We are taught these signs early on so we can differentiate someone who is living a healthy life and someone who is ill. I like that you point out the influence of the media as well. It is very true that a lot of media has stigmatized patients who suffer from mental illnesses. When we think of someone with a mental illness, we automatically picture a crazy person in a psychiatrists office. This type of thinking has caused people to misunderstand patients who suffer from from mental illness.

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