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Health Psychology

Health Psychology

There is no one factor which affects our health. Health psychology is a specialty area that focuses on how biology, psychology, behaviour, and social factors influence health and illness. The field of health psychology promotes the treatment and prevention of physical illness. It also deals with how people cope or recover from the illness. In other words, health psychology deals how the lifestyle, stress, behaviour of a person affects him physically and how the physical illness, in turn, affects mental health.

Almost all the major illnesslike heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension, respiratory disorders like asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, HIV/AIDS, cancer, strokes and othersare related to psychological and behavioural factors.

Health psychologists work with individuals, and communities to decrease the risk factors, improve overall health, and reduce illness by getting involved in a wide range of activities like:

  • Educating and spreading awareness about the illness: to provide all the information about a particular illness - how does it start, how it may be prevented, the factors affecting it.
  • Teaching coping skills: once diagnosed with any illness, how a person can cope with it effectively.
  • Teaching preventive measures: keeping a check on the weight, avoiding particular behaviours for people who are already susceptible to certain illnesses.
  • Reduce risky sexual behaviour: educate and promote healthy sexual relations.
  • Planning a change in lifestyle: expert advice on weight loss, quit smoking, keep a check on alcohol and type of food, sleep-wake up cycle and others
  • Stress management: performing relaxation and mindful exercises.
  • Giving grief therapy in the case of terminally ill patients: how to deal with the grief if someone in the family has passed away.
  • Giving family therapies to enhance relationship: educating the entire family about the illness a family member is going through, describing their role, enhancing cooperation from family members.

It is found that people who take therapy parallel to the medications and treatment for their physical health have much better results and recovery periods than those who are only taking treatment for their physical illness.

Stress management and educating people about illness are two of the most important things that a health psychologist is involved in. Most of the illness named above is the consequence of long-term underlying stress. If one has all the information about the illness, the factors that could trigger it, how to manage stress levels, associated anxiety or depression, most of the severe health issues could be evadedaltogether.

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