What is the Definition of Wellness?
The term “health” has a number of different meanings across the world. Some people view health as the absence of sickness and disease, while other people view health as the prevention of illness and disease. In between these two views is a large group which views health as the ability to survive and flourish despite the different circumstances in which one lives. In this article we will be looking at some of the ways that health can be viewed and achieved.
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an essential condition of life characterized by the absence of infection, injury, malignancy or serious illness.” A number of other definitions have also been used over the years for slightly different purposes. A dictionary definition of the word would define it as “exceedingly good health; a state of well being that eliminates or reduces risks of death or disability”. Another common definition is the phrase “healthy body, mind and spirit” which literally mean “having a healthy body, mind and spirit”. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Drug Control sums up the definition of “the practice of well-rounded life, free from health risks” as “the control of disease through the development of healthy habits, effective treatment and care of persons subjected to abuse or neglect and the elimination of all risk factors that increase the risk of illness and mortality”.
Although we typically think of physical health as something that we can see with our eyes, it is important to recognize that our mental health impacts our physical health and vice versa. The definition of well-being as it relates to mental health is “the ability to cope with daily demands with productive responses”. People who are healthy, happy and feel confident are most able to cope with the demands of day to day living. Mental health is therefore intimately connected to the quality of life and the avoidance of premature death and disability.
A key factor in defining health is the presence or absence of a disorder or disease, which can take many forms and can affect any part of the body. The absence or presence of a disorder or disease does not necessarily mean the same thing for people with varying degrees of ability and disability. Some may be physically healthy but have a psychiatric illness or disability which causes depression or other emotional disturbances; some may be physically healthy but have a specific disease which makes them incapable of participation in most socially active activities; while others may be physically healthy but may develop depression or anxiety as a result of the physical constraints they face.
The absence or presence of a disorder or disease can itself be a very good indication of good health. The absence of serious and debilitating diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and numerous infectious diseases such as influenza, measles, herpes, mumps, and shingles is a very strong indicator of good health. The absence or presence of other chronic conditions such as arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, insomnia, or depression also falls into this category. Psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia also fall into this category. Any condition that causes a lack of concentration, changes in mood, unrealistic thinking, suicidal thoughts, violence, and substance abuse and addiction falls into this definition.
As defined by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a disease is any abnormal, persistent abnormality in the functioning of the body. A chronic condition is any abnormality in a patient’s ability to function normally. Disorders and diseases are classed as such based on the symptoms that are present and the severity of the disorder or disease. The term “quality of life” is used to define the quality of life after a diagnosis of a disorder or disease. All disorders and diseases should be monitored and included in the definition of wellness.