Civilization syndrome is, in essence, the factors that predispose us to diseases based off our culture. Though this term is a relatively recent development, where the many modern things are concerned, it was first used to describe the North American obesity epidemic in 1993 . The authors of the study concluded:
This integrated picture of the multiple symptoms of visceral obesity is based on epidemiological, clinical, experimental, cellular, and molecular evidence. The ingredients of positive energy balance, including physical inactivity, stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption are frequent features of modern, urbanized society. Visceral obesity may therefore be an expression of a “Civilization Syndrome.”
Later in the 1990’s, a group of Swedish scientists published in Läkartidningen (a journal by the Swedish Medical Association) that “‘Civilization Syndrome’ is a growing health problem” . They went on to conclude that there was, undoubtedly, a link between neuroendocrine disorders and our modern stressors. With the growth of the internet’s importance in our lives, these factors have also been exasperated. Where social media is concerned, especially, it’s only worse. From being a major player in developing depression , to exasperating bulimia , and even going as far as to be added to the list of factors we call civilization syndrome :
Although the relationship between the content of stress and serious diseases, such as depression is not so obvious, underlying mechanisms encouraging more and more authors to define a ‘civilization syndrome’ as a link between our modern lifestyle, the civilization we live and psychosocial health problems. With regard to the ‘civilization syndrome’, there are several new candidates that have been spotted as the challenges for psychiatric research, like burnout, infertility and solitude. All these phenomena seem to increase epidemically and require urgent conceptual and therapeutic studies.
Continually research points to our lifestyles as they stand being fully unsustainable; for ourselves and for our environment. The header of “civilization syndrome” is less indicative of an actual disease, and much more about that broader concept. It’s up to us, as people, to look out for our health in these regards.
If you would like to read more, check out the original 1993 paper, or the more recent one we linked to. Or, for more in health news, check out how Swiss insurance will be covering alternative medicines, or how social isolation plays into depression.