Hysteria is a mental disorder arising from intense anxiety. It is characterised by lack of control over acts and emotions, and by sudden seizures of unconsciousness with emotional outbursts. It is often the result of repressed conflicts within the person. This disease appears in both sexes, but it is far more common in young women between fourteen and twenty five years of age.
Causes and Symptoms
The symptoms of hysteria are heaviness in the limbs, severe cramps, a strong feeling of ascending abdominal constriction, continual sighings, difficulty in breathing, constriction in the chest, palpitations, feeling of a foreign body lodged in the throat, swelling of the neck and of the jugular veins, suffocation, headache, clenched teeth, and generalized and voluntary tensing of muscles of locomotion. In severe cases, additional symptoms are noticeable; these may include wild and painful cries, incomplete loss of consciousness, an enormously swollen neck, violent and tumultuous heartbeats, involuntary locomotor muscle contraction, frightening generalized convulsions, and violent movement.
The physical symptoms include a weakness of the will, a craving for love and sympathy, and a tendency towards emotional instability. Hysterical trances may last for days or weeks. A patient in a trance may appear to be in a deep sleep, but the muscles are not usually relaxed.
The most common causes of hysteria are sexual repression, perverted habits of thought, and idleness. Heredity plays an important part in its causation. A nervous family background and faulty emotional training when young are predisposing causes. The emotional situations may be caused by mental. strain, stress, fear, worry, depression, traumatism, masturbation, and prolonged sickness.
A Neurotic Disorder Jambul: The jambul fruit is considered an effective home remedy for hysteria. Three kilograms of this fruit and a handful of salt should be put in a jug filled with water. The jug should be kept in the sun for a week. A women suffering from hysteria should take 300 gm of these fruits on an empty stomach, and drink a cup of water from the jug. The day she starts this treatment, 3 kg more of these fruits, mixed with a handful of salt, should be put in another jug filled with water, so that when the contents of the first jug are finished, the contents of the other will be ready for use. This treatment should be continued for two weeks.
Honey: Honey is regarded as another effective remedy for hysteria. It is advisable to take one tablespoon of honey daily.
Bottle Gourd: Bottle gourd is useful as an external application in hysteria. Macerated fresh pulp of this vegetable should be applied over the head of the patient in the treatment of this disease.
Lettuce: Lettuce is considered valuable in this disease. A cup of fresh juice of lettuce, mixed with a teaspoon of Indian gooseberry (amla) juice, should be given every day in the moming for a month, as a medicine in the treatment of hysteria.
Rauwolfia: The herb rauwolfia is very useful in hysteria. One gram of the powdered root should be administered with one cup of milk in the morning as well as in the evening. Treatment should be continued till a complete cure has been obtained.
Asafoetida: Asafoetida has also proved beneficial in the treatment of this disease. Smelling this gum prevents hysterical attacks. If taken orally, the daily dosage should be from 0.5 to 1.0 gm. An emulsion made up of 2 gm of the gum with 120 ml of water is a valuable enema in hysteria, when the patient resists taking the gum orally.
In most cases of hysteria, it is desirable for patients to start the treatment by adopting an all-fruit diet for several days, taking three meals a day of juicy fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, grapefruit, papayas, and pineapples. This may be followed by an exclusive milk diet for about a month. The milk diet will help to build better blood and nourish the nerves. If the full milk diet is not convenient, a diet of milk and fruits may be adopted. The patient may, thereafter, gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. The patient should avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, tobacco, white sugar and white flour, and products made from them.
The patient should be taught self-control and educated in the right habits of thinking. Her mind must be drawn away from herself by some means. Proper sex education should be provided and a married patient should be taught to enjoy a normal sexual relationship. Exercise and outdoor games are also important. They take the mind away from self and induce cheerfulness. Yogasanas which are useful in hysteria are bhujangasana, shalabhasana, matsyasana, sarvangasana, dhanurasana, halasana, paschimottanasana, yogamudra, and shavasana. Weak patients, who are not able to do much active exercise, may be given a massage three or four times a week.