Do any of the following phrases sound familiar: “It’s nothing to worry yourself sick over,” “I was sick with worry,” or “Don’t stress yourself out”?
These are not just warnings or expressions about too much negative mental activity. What does it mean to worry to the point of sickness? What does it look like to stress yourself out? For you, it could be a bout with insomnia. For someone else, too much worry could result in an upset stomach. Yet for another, excessive stress for a long period of time could contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
The type of illness that results from too much stress depends on a variety of factors. Your age, gender, ethnic heritage, culture, and even geographical location all influence your response to developing stress-related illnesses. Some populations are more vulnerable to the effects of stress, just as some populations are more susceptible to certain diseases. Population-based health care focuses on assessing health needs, planning culturally sensitive prevention and intervention programs, and improving public health.
In this context, populations are groups of people defined by a common condition that perhaps need focused health education, prevention programs, or treatment. The following are some examples of populations:
Military personnel returning from war
Those with low socioeconomic status
Those experiencing discrimination
Those with asthma
Those experiencing significant loss
Those with cardiovascular disease
Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse
Victims of crime
Those with serious mental illness
Whether it is poverty, grief, or discrimination, the variety of stressors that members of these populations might encounter does not vanish overnight. As a result, the persistence of stress can contribute to long-lasting illness or chronic disease, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. Seventy percent of all deaths in the United States are due to chronic disease. Fifty percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease. Chronic diseases are the most common and expensive diseases facing the world and since most chronic diseases have modifiable risk factors, most are preventable. The most common modifiable risks are poor diet, lack of exercise, and tobacco, alcohol, or drug use.
Review attached article the Stress and Immune-Related Disease” section of the “Stress, the Immune System, Chronic Illness, and Your Body” handout. Select an illness to use for this Discussion. Think about a population that is more susceptible to this illness and a population that is less susceptible to this illness.
With these thoughts in mind:
Write a brief description of the illness you selected. Then describe one population that is more susceptible and one population that is less susceptible to this illness and explain why. Include how stress and coping might differ between these populations.
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