Defining health is quite hard for me. I am never sure if I should be defining how it is understood or how it ought to be understood. Usually the product is a mixture of both, however. I define health as a state of psychological, social, and physical well-being as informed by cultural context. Ilness I understand as the subjective, variable, and culturally specific experience of ill-health. My definitions are informed by my own cultural knowledge and experience, my understanding of various conceptions of health, and my intellectual preferences in defining things.
I will start with thinking about menstruation as an illness. It is tough primarily because it is accompanied by symptoma, for most women, that are perceived as unpleasant and even painful orverwhelming. However, unless a woman is willing to label those symptoms abnormal or problematic, It shouldn’t be considered an illness. Even if a woman were to percieve menstruation (its symptoms) as a sign of ill-health, and thus illness, I hesitate to label it an illness. It would be one based on the definition I’ve given, but I would not label it one as a practicing doctor firstly for practical reasons. I would rather try to shift the patients subjective thoughts towards not considering it an Illness as this is is probably better for the persons health in the long run. Perhaps, I ought to edit the definition a tad, because I think illness should exclude as a possibility those things which arise from a regular functioning of bodily processes, even if that is quite subjective. Thus i don’t consider menstruation an illness.
Anxiety is perhaps a little harder to say. I would consider anxety an illness under two conditions: 1) the symptoms are distressing to the person and 2) it is not a proportionate reaction to circumstance. For instance, i wouldn’t say my anxiety is an illness if I experience it becore public speaking or if it was at a low enough level that It caused me no significant distress.