Are there gender differences in wellness?

Chapter 11 Disease, Illness, and Disorders




I.    Distinctions and Wholeness

A.   Determining Health and Illness

1.         Realizing that very few of us are completely healthy for long periods of time, it is useful to consider the concepts of health and illness as related and overlapping.

2.         Older adults may ignore mild symptoms, considering them a sign of old age rather than a sign of illness.

B.     Individual Differences and Diversity

1.         Another point that often gets neglected in the analyses of health and disease are the many individual differences, particularly in terms of gender and ethnic diversity, that are associated with quality of health and disease management.

a)        Women in late adulthood are more likely to try self-care to reduce symptoms of poor health, through the use of over-the-counter and alternative methods, whereas men are more likely to simply endure the symptoms (George, 2001).

II.       Physical Illnesses

A.     Cardiovascular Disease

1.         Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among women and men, includes diseases and conditions that affect the functioning of the heart, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart attack.

The following statistics are from 2013



2.         Cardiovascular disease has also been related to personality characteristics that lead to greater hostility, anxiety, and depression.

B.     Cancer

1.          Cancer includes conditions that begin with abnormal cell growth that destroys healthy tissue and may metastasize throughout the body.

2.        The precursors for cancer may be inherited or triggered by certain lifestyle and environmental factors.


C.     Cerebrovascular Disease

1.         Cerebrovascular disease includes conditions that interrupt blood flow to the brain, destroying brain tissue, which then causes many types of lifelong disabilities.

D.     Diabetes

1.         Diabetes, occurring when the body doesn’t have or use insulin to transform glucose into fuel, is unique in that it can be prevented in some cases through diet and exercise.

2.        There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes.

3.        Type 1 diabetes occurs when, for some unknown reason, the body’s immune system that fights infection destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

4.        Type 2 diabetes is more common, sometimes milder than Type 1, and slower to develop.

E.    Alzheimer’s Disease

1.          Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms, including the deterioration of memory processing, reasoning ability, decision making, judgment, language processing, and communication skills.

2.         Alzheimer’s disease, one of the leading causes of dementia, is a brain disease that progresses through four stages of cognitive and physical deterioration.

a)         The first stage, preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, actually starts 10–20 years before diagnosis as parts of the brain begin to atrophy (shrink).

b)         The second step in the process is called mild Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms include memory loss, confusion over familiar things and places, difficulty with routine tasks, poor judgment, loss of spontaneity, loss of initiative, increased anxiety, and mood and personality changes (NIA, 2003).

c)        In the third stage, moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the brain damage has spread to areas that control sensory processing and conscious thought.

d)        In the fourth and final stage, severe Alzheimer’s disease, all the symptoms reach their peak. Many patients have little if any awareness of themselves, their loved ones, or their surroundings.


III.      Psychological Disorders

A.  Classifications and Individual Differences

1.         The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly 25% of American adults age 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder at some point during a calendar year.

B.   Anxiety Disorders

1.          Anxiety disorders are the most common psychological disorders in the United States, affecting approximately 40 million Americans per year.

2.        The category of anxiety disorders, which includes panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive–compulsive disorder, are highly treatable once diagnosed.

C.    Mood Disorders

1.         The classification of mood disorders includes major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

2.         Depressive disorders in older adults may be neglected because the condition is assumed to be a part of old age and/or a side effect of a disease or medication.

In Assignments

Post Question: Gender has an impact on health in a variety of ways. How so? Decide on 2 gender related health issues and address the differences in how these health concerns affect gender? What about wellness? What about anxiety and mood disorders? Are there gender differences in wellness? Disorders?


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