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Giacomo Balli
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Other Diseases of Affluence: Depression, Obesity, Diabetes, and Alcoholism (Dec 2005)

Introduction As time passes by and many bad things are being erased there are new ones that come up. This is particularly true in the medicine field. In fact every now and then we unfortunately hear of some new illness which threatens many people. Among all of these those that are in some way “generated” by the overall enrichment of the people or the increase in wealth are called “diseases of affluence”. Just to get things straight we may file under this category a few which are well known such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, allergies, autoimmune diseases, asthma, alcoholism, depression and possibly a range or majority of other psychiatric illnesses. Being the topic an extremely vast one, in this essay we will just briefly define and explore four of them: depression, obesity, diabetes, and alcoholism. Depression “Clinical depression is state of debilitating sadness or melancholy. The definition applies when an individual's mood and other criteria are judged by the clinician to meet the definition as laid down in DSM-IV-TR or ICD10” . Depression has been around for quite a long time however; in these last years we notice that there has been a bi increase in critical cases. This is mainly due to the fact that it is due to various factors which today are present in everyone's life. Depression between teenagers is incredibly common. The parents have an important role although friends, classmates and society play one of even higher relevance. In fact nowadays in the news it is not rare to see the tragedies which derive from this “disease”. One of the major causes why a young person experiences this is frequently due to their physical aspect. Some teens may feel obese or some may feel thin. Others may feel that they are just ugly. Peers from school might make them feel like that way. When growing up name-calling and comments that people say do hurt. If they hear negative things coming all the time they would start to believe those things. The actions such as hitting and pointing could affect the teen as well. Some affects such as not eating comes from the model look as seen on television. If all they see is the perfect model shape then that's what they want to look like. Trying to get that look may result in them stop eating. Doing so may cause death from starvation. Due to how they feel they may stop going to school or commit suicide. Another cause of depression is from when they were younger. Molestation could play a major role in their life. As a child gets molested, it could follow them their whole life. They could remember that time forever. It has mentally destroyed that individual totally. As a result that person could always keep to his or her self and have very few friends. Most of the time they would rather be alone. Because that person had could not talk to his or her parents when they were younger, they may grow up to be anti-social. By keeping to his or her self others may consider that individual weird or different and may talk about them. If the parent was abusive in that person younger day it also could affect them. Due to that the teen could be very abusive toward others. They could have many fights in school and cause complications in their life. Some teens could grow up without parents and that could affect them. The parents may have put them up for adoption and they feel that no one loves them. This would cause feelings or frustration directed out on the world. Because of this they may not care about anything or anyone during their life. The last cause of depression is having a lot of stress. If a teen has a lot to accomplish and could not that can be very stressful. Maybe due to lack of money by the parents, they could not do many activities. The teenager may not be involved in as many activities as they wanted to be because of lack of money. Growing up and never having any money could affect them. In school many students could talk about them if they did not wear a certain clothing style. They will not accept the fact that they could not afford the more expensive clothing. When being ridiculed by others they may not want to go back to school anymore. They also may do other things to make more so they could buy those clothing. The outcome could be involving in gangs or hanging out with the wrong people. Selling drugs is common in teens that want money quick and fast. The gang or drugs could mess the kid up and they could drop out of school or get locked up. In conclusion, depression comes from a lot of things. There are many counseling centers for young people. They could go and discuss their problems that they are going through. Parents could avoid most of these problems if they talk and get involved in their children life. For the most part the teenager should love the way they look no matter what other people say about them. Obesity “Obesity is a condition where the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissue of humans and mammals is increased to the point where it may impair health. Obesity in wild animals is relatively rare, but it is common in domestic animals like pigs and household pets that may be overfed and under exercised. In humans it is generally considered to be a leading cause of health problems” . When in a human body there an excessive storage of fat we refer to this as obesity. Logically, this means that this body is receiving more calories than it actually burns during the day. However, most doctors point out that we should use the term “obese” only when a person weighs over 20% that what it should under “normal circumstances” (this is depends on height, type of body, size of bones, age etc.). It is well known that the United States of America is at position number one for number of obese citizens (30%-35% of Americans). There are three main causes: genetic, environmental, and psychological. Genetically, obesity tends to run in families. If your grandparents are obese, then it is likely that your parent will be obese as well, and if your parent is obese, you have a good chance of also becoming obese. However, because family members share diet and lifestyle habits, along with genes, it is difficult to identify genetics as the only cause. Environmental factors include lifestyle behaviors, such as diet and activity levels. If you just sit around all day and eat, without participating in some type of physical activity, you have a good chance of becoming obese. This is because your calorie intake will exceed the amount of energy you burn. Another cause to obesity is a psychological factor. Many people eat in response to negative emotions, such as boredom, sadness or anger. Most overweight people have no more psychological disturbance than normal weight people do, but about 30 percent of people seeking treatment for serious weight problems have trouble with binge eating. Binge eaters consume large amounts of food while feeling they can't control how much they are eating. This can lead to obesity as well as the other factors. Some other causes include illnesses such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, depression, and certain neurological problems, which can lead to overeating. Certain drugs, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may also cause excessive weight gain. However, these causes are only responsible for about one percent of all obesity cases. Out of all the causes, I feel the environmental factor is the best hypothesis for obesity. True, it could be genetic, but because families eat together and participate in activities together, it would be very difficult to point the finger at the genetic factor. Another good choice for the best causation would be psychological; however, not everyone has eating disorders and most overweight people have no more psychological disturbance than normal weight people do. So to say it is a psychological factor that causes it would not be too accurate. Diabetes The third of our four “new diseases” that are affecting the world is diabetes. Diabetesmellitus is a medical disorder characterized by varying or persistent hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels), especially after eating” .In some cases, diabetes is due to a genetic factor (inherited usually from parents grandparents etc.). However, usually it arises for some unknown reason. Habitually this derives from the kind of life we are living. In fact people that are very overweight are very likely to experience diabetes. For this disease, the symptoms are quite explicit: You can live a long and normal life with diabetes, as long as you get the right treatment from a doctor. In any case, diabetes can become very serious if you try to ignore it or you don't see a doctor, you can get very sick or even die. Since as we said it has been known for years and years, we also know why it occurs. In few words what happens is that when you eat your body breaks down the food and turns it into glucose, which our body uses for energy. People with diabetes don't have enough insulin which helps to break down food that we eat, into glucose. In addition, their insulin might not be functioning properly Causes for type 1 diabetes: Causes for type 2 diabetes: Rarer causes of diabetes include: To prevent getting diabetes, you should try not to become overweight and do a reasonable amount of exercise. Plus, try to avoid some medicines which may prevent insulin to work properly. In any case, since diabetes is genetic there is no way to prevent getting diabetes… The sad thing is that diabetes can not be cured, you have it for the rest of your life. Being a diabetic is not just suffering from a disease, it involves an entirely different way of life. A diabetic has to plan activities more carefully then a person without diabetes. To control type 1 diabetes you need to keep track of your insulin levels, inject yourself with insulin everyday and follow a special diet. To control type 2 you usually don't take insulin. It is treated with exercise, weight loss, strict diet and sometimes medicine. Alcoholism “Alcoholism is a dependency on alcoholic beverages characterized by craving, … loss of control …, physical dependence, tolerance …, and withdrawal symptoms. It can also be described as an addiction to alcoholic beverages that results in a consumption of alcohol in circumstances that damage one's ability to pursue one's other desires” . People who are suffering this kind of disorder are called alcoholics. Usually alcoholics constantly think about their next drink and in many times they do not have the motivation or will power to quit. When they indulge themselves in these substances, they cannot control themselves and become drunk. Very often these kinds of situations will lead into bad disasters such as being arrested for driving drunk, being arrested for jay walking on the street. Alcoholism only leads to a life of depression, anxiety, anger, stress, and much more. These are all common unwanted personality traits that we experience at one time or another. However, alcoholics exhibit these traits day in and day our as the likelihood that they act in these types of manners is nearly doubled when alcohol is involved. Alcohol inhibits not only our daily bodily functions but our mind as well. Alcoholism leads to times of withdrawal, low self-esteem, and an overall unwillingness to be part of society. It can turn the gentlest person into a raving psychopath without them even knowing it or if they do know, they refuse to admit it. Alcoholism manipulates the way we think and the way we react in common everyday situations. Minor problems are blown out of proportion while major problems are faced with anger, resentment, and often-physical force. Alcoholism does nothing positive for an individual. It has many harmful effects and their effect on an individual personality is one of the most harmful of all. Our personality is who we are and whom we are known as. Alcoholism takes that personality, corrupts it, and turns us into the person we never thought we would become. As the alcohol becomes more important and necessary in an alcoholics life he will find himself unable to any longer answer the question of who he is but will rather find himself asking questions such as who he has become. At first, an individual may enjoy an occasional beer or two to take a load off. This does not have a permanent adverse effect on his personality. Conclusion In conclusion, we may say that in the today's world there are many illnesses and diseases which are partly or entirely due to the society's welfare and enrichment. These are usually referred to as “diseases of affluence” or “lifestyle illnesses”. Unfortunately we find many unpleasant elements under this categorization and each and every one of them reflect a negative aspect of our lives. In this essay we only focused on four of these, and in an extremely brief way, otherwise we would need to write entire books on the topic… Bibliography Since the topic is so vast and the essay has to be relatively short, only personal knowledge, personal thoughts and the below websites were used. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_depression (definition and basic information on depression) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholism (definition and basic information on alcoholism) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity (definition and basic information on obesity) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes (definition and basic information on diabetes)

Published: Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:02:05 +0000