There are Many Kinds of Illnesses
Some illnesses are caused by a virus, a fungus, or bacteria. Chemicals like arsenic, too much alcohol, even too much caffeine or nicotine can make us ill. Smoking tobacco for many years can bring on several serious illnesses including heart disease, emphysema, and even cancer. Unprotected sex can lead to several sexually transmitted diseases. There are also inherited diseases like diabetes, hemophilia, and Huntington’s Chorea. Many illnesses, like diabetes, herpes infections, emphysema, schizophrenia, and injuries such as spinal cord injuries are life‐long, chronic ailments.
In the case of diabetes there is malfunction of the pancreas, an organ above the stomach that produces a chemical called insulin. Several illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression involve a malfunction of the brain, which also produces various chemicals called “neurotransmitters.” Imbalances in these brain chemicals can make a person depressed or so full of ideas and energy that the person cannot sleep or rest. Other brain chemicals can make it hard to concentrate or cause delusions such as believing people are plotting to cause harm to someone.
Illnesses affecting the brain such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often run in families suggesting a genetic cause. For example, the odds of any person developing schizophrenia is about two people out of a hundred, or a 2 percent chance. But, if you are an identical twin and your twin comes down with schizophrenia the odds are almost 50‐50 that you will also develop schizophrenia. Doctors don’t know why the odds are not 100 percent that if one twin develops schizophrenia, so will the other twin.
There are many theories that try to explain why some people develop an illness like bipolar disorder, severe depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, or Schizophrenia. Some theorists have proposed a rare virus, or something in the environment, or the effects of an emotional trauma, or a genetic potential to become ill under the “right conditions.” –Sort of like how one person develops a cold or cancer, while another person living in the same house does not become ill.
The term “biological vulnerability” refers to people who are born with a tendency to develop an illness. Common examples of “biological vulnerability” include asthma, high blood pressure, some forms of diabetes, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and early‐age onset Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Just as your heart is a very important organ for keeping you alive, your brain is also crucial to your ability to think and make everyday decisions. It is a very scary thing when your heart or your brain is not working properly. People with heart conditions or brain conditions should be closely followed by their doctors.