An Overview of Disease – A Definition
Wellness is a quest for balance and continued development in all the seven dimensions of health. Some people think of “wellness” mainly in terms of health. The word, however, evokes visions of exercise, nutrition, self-treatment, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc. Any of these, or a combination thereof, can improve health. There are no excuses for not taking action on any of these important aspects of health today.
The first aspect of wellness that concerns us is our mental well-being. Mental wellness includes a person’s awareness of his or her physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health. It is important to work on this area regularly because it can be the basis for maintaining other areas of wellness, such as physical health, drug use, depression, and anxiety. Mental wellness requires that we become aware of our thinking and feeling. We need to learn how to relax and reduce stress.
A second aspect of mental health concerns the presence and impact of mental health issues. These can include depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug use, risky sexual behaviors, low self-esteem, and other problems. The public health community has developed several interventions for dealing with these issues. Among them are comprehensive programs that address HIV and other diseases that compromise health; screenings for depression; and hand washing guidelines for health care providers. All of these initiatives have had remarkable success in reducing the prevalence of disease among the general population.
The third definition of “disease” is a condition that is associated with an individual with a complex set of biological, physical, and social causes. For purposes of this definition, diseases are grouped into three categories: primary diseases, secondary diseases, and associated diseases. Primary diseases are life-threatening diseases that affect an individual immediately. Secondary diseases are those that can be prevented by taking preventative measures.
The fourth definition of “disease” is an occurrence or state of affairs that interferes with the quality of life. The public health system takes care of the primary diseases and works to reduce their severity while treating their consequences. As a result, disease is seen as a disruptive condition that interferes with an individual’s ability to live a normal, healthy, and productive life. It therefore has been considered an undesirable state of affairs. This definition is reflected in legislation such as the Affordable Care Act of 1996 that placed mandatory guidelines for insurers to provide benefits to insured patients with catastrophic diseases.
The term “disease” itself and variations on the definition such as communicable diseases and chronic diseases may be loosely applied. The treatment of primary and secondary diseases is viewed as preventative measures. This may help to reduce the impact of communicable diseases on the general population. Public health professionals and educators work together to fight against communicable diseases and to promote healthy lifestyles.