Psychological Factors in Health

Psychological Factors in Health By Samantha Weitzell Axia College of the University of Phoenix Contracting an illness rather it be the flu, a cold, or even heart disease can have many factors, some including genetic and lifestyle. Most of us only look at genetic factors when it comes to our health. If our grandmother had cancer then we will probably contract it as well. This is not entirely true, studies show that behavior, culture, environmental and stress can make a big difference in our health.

Chapter 4 in our book states the multicultural model is “The belief that health and illness are a function of multiple factors involving biological, psychological, and cultural domains, and their interactions” (Axia College, 2009, Week Four reading). When we think about psychological factors such as anxiety or depression we tend to believe those only affect our mental health, however preventing or controlling these psychological illnesses can have effect on our physical health and well being. Psychological factors also are important in understanding and treating medical disorders.

One medical disorder that is one of the biggest stress related are headaches. In the United States 20% of the population suffer from severe headaches (Axia College, 2009, Week Four reading). There are two types of headaches to discuss those are muscle tension headaches and migraine headaches. Muscle tension headaches are caused from the contraction of muscles in the shoulder, head and neck. When our body is experiencing a great deal of stress these muscles start to contract constantly causing us to have a muscle tension headache.

Blowing issues out of proportion can lead to these headaches as well. Tension headaches come on gradually, most people will experience pain on both sides of the head and pressure throughout the head (Gorman & Park, 2002). One out of every ten Americans experience migraine headaches. A migraine headache is a throbbing headache caused by wavelike firing of neurons on the brain, which create ripples of neural activity that reach pain centers in the brain stem (Axia College, 2009, Week Four reading).

Muscle tension headaches will experience pain on both sides of the head where in a migraine headache you will only experience pain on one side. Muscle tension headaches usually go away within a few hours at the most whereas migraine headaches can last hours or even days at a time. These types of headaches can cause blurred vision, sensitivity to things such as smells or light, nausea, and loss of eating. The cause of migraine headaches are said to be complex and not well understood. Most Doctors feel it is due to an imbalance of blood flow and imbalance of neuron activity in the brain.

There are many things that can trigger these headaches such as stress, hormones, drug use, and even certain types of chemicals. According to the American Heart Association Coronary Heart Disease also known as CDH is the leading cause of death in the United States (American Heart Association, 2000). The choices we make and our behavior actually have a large effect on our risk of suffering from CHD. There are quite a few factors determining this. Our family history does have some effect but, there are also many other psychological effects we will discuss as well.

A person who has a family history of CHD is most likely to contract it then others. Someone with psychological conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol are also at high risk. Many times when we feel stressed we think our blood pressure is too high but, that is not always true that is why it is important to get this checked regularly. Our eating habits can play a role in our risk for heart disease. Over eating, smoking and alcoholism are some of the most common. Type A behavior can have an effect on developing heart disease.

Type A behavior is someone that is usually impatient, aggressive, feel rushed, and under a great amount of stress. Reducing these types of behavior patterns can help lower our risk of developing heart problems and even many other health issues. One CHD is developed we can undergo surgery and take medication. There are quite a few different ways that we can prevent developing this disease and eliminate risk of being one of those every ten Americans that suffer from CHD. One of the biggest challenges we face that we can change is to stop smoking, controlling our weight and to follow a healthy diet.

All, three of these things are something that we control and we have the choice as to how we live our lifestyle. Keeping these types of things under control can help us in maintaining our health. Maintaining good behavior patterns and not living with a type A personality can help in reducing risks to heart disease. Finding ways to relieve stress and hypertension such as relaxation exercises or working in jobs that do not put so much stress on our bodies are good ways in controlling this.