Health psychology is an exciting area of research and clinical practice. It is rapidly growing and changing into a field that considers many facets of health. This rapidly growing field emphasizes understanding the interrelationship between mind, body, and spirit.
It examines how culture and social environments impact health. It also looks at how people develop and learn self-awareness and self-regulation skills. Health psychology is basically the study of behavioral and emotional processes in health, sickness, and disease.
It is very much concerned with learning how cultural, psychological, and interpersonal factors all contribute to health and disease. Psychological factors can influence health right within the individual.
Public policymakers, for example, have been focusing on health psychology as they create public policies related to smoking, obesity, exercise, diet, and healthy aging.
A major portion of health psychology research involves
- Studying biological
- Behavioral factors that influence health
These areas often look at genetic, environmental, neurological, and environmental factors that influence the development of ill-health and illness in humans.
Social and environmental factors also come into play when studying the causes and treatment of illness and disease. People are complex creatures. We each experience physical, mental, emotional, and physiological responses to everyday situations and events in our lives.
Our response to these situations and events is shaped by genetic predispositions and by social environments. In addition, we experience illness and disease as a result of the combination of these factors.
The causes and treatments of many illnesses and even some types of diseases are still under study
One of the major areas of research in the health psychology field deals with how biological, physiological, as well as social factors affect our ability to achieve and maintain good health.
Researchers have been trying for decades to discover how these factors interact with each other. For instance, do certain physical features, such as
- Does height or bodyweight, affect our sense of well-being?
- Does being tall influence emotional health, as well?
- How do our body size and body shape affect our self-image and the ability to form relationships?
There are many areas of health psychology that deal with understanding why people form and maintain certain behavioural and emotional patterns. Understanding these patterns helps explain why some people have good health outcomes while others have poor health outcomes.
Understanding the interplay between biology and environment is important in understanding why some people are more genetically inclined to develop certain illnesses, while other people are less susceptible.
Similarly, understanding the effect of social conditions and environmental constraints on the formation and development of certain behaviors and emotions can shed light on the reasons why some people develop depression and other mental illnesses.
When it comes to emotional health, factors that influence both biological and social factors are considered to be important predictors of emotional health.
Researchers have found that people who are exposed to stress react less to physical illness and are better able to cope with stress-related problems. These factors include
- Genetics (including genetics in the genes of the children)
- Early life experiences
- Family support
- Negative experiences
Similarly, researchers have found that those who are exposed to greater physical stress react less negatively to life stressors and are better able to adapt to life stressors.
Factors that affect the development of both biological and emotional wellbeing are inclusive of the quality of relationships a person has, their occupational status, and their exposure to different types of physical and emotional stress.
It is important that medical doctors take a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating emotional and physical illness. The results of current research are providing medical doctors with a more complete picture of emotional and physical illness.
This information will ultimately prove to be a boon to those who are suffering from serious illnesses and are having a difficult time coping with the trauma of their illness and the effects of their illness on their emotions and self-image.
With this information readily available, emotional and physical illness sufferers can increase their quality of life by being able to manage the stressors that come along with their illness.
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