Before doing this activity, I defined health as being in good physical shape, being emotionally stable (or taking medication necessary to maintain stability), and having a realistic and reasonable outlook or expectation for various life situations. I defined illness as simply not being healthy; having a cold or broken leg, or a disease like cancer. To determine these definitions I considered one’s physical condition and their mental and emotional conditions. However, I did not include a person’s personal experience or how they decide whether they are healthy or not.
Society played a large part in how I decided if I was healthy, along with influences from family, school, and the sports I played. In society, a person was not healthy if they had allergies or the flu and it is often stressed that children get vaccinations to protect them from disease. This was also true with broken bones or being physically out of shape. My family and the sports I played placed emphasis on physical exercise to remain healthy and if I had a broken leg I would have to see a doctor and I would not be able to be physically active for some time.
When examining health, it is also important to understand sickness. Sickness can be broken down into a disease or illness. We defined disease as a clinical phenomenon that is diagnosed by a doctor and illness as unwanted variations in the physical, social, and psychological dimensions of health that consider the individual experience of the person with a particular condition. Defining these terms can sometimes make it difficult to determine whether something was an illness or a disease. One of the conditions from the list I chose to examine was erectile dysfunction. It was difficult to decide whether this one was a disease or illness because the symptoms experienced by men with erectile dysfunction are all the same; they have trouble keeping an erection and/or reduced sexual desire. The shared symptoms among those with erectile dysfunction lead me to believe that it is a disease; however, the reason why the individuals cannot hold an erection could be very different and some men may not think to see a doctor. It could be implicit of another health problem (diabetes, etc.) or a psychological issue. Since this element depends on the individual’s personal experience, it would seem that erectile dysfunction is also an illness.
Another condition I decided to examine was anxiety. I decided that it was an illness because even though it can be clinically diagnosed, people experience anxiety differently and some do not think to seek treatment for anxiety. For example, one person may become very anxious speaking in front of a crowd while another person may be comfortable with public speaking but will show the same symptoms of anxiety while being alone. Or, a person may be feeling very anxious in certain situations and think that they are just worrying too much seeing no need to visit a doctor. In these cases, the symptoms of anxiety that they share would be similar but the cause would depend on the individual and whether or not they seek treatment.