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What is Hysteria?

In use for over two millennia, hysteria is an old medical term that is still used colloquially for referring to a condition of extreme fear or emotion and the irrational behavior that arises out of it. At its early stages, the term was used describe women who acted irrationally due to a supposed disturbance of the uterus. Modern psychology divides hysteria into two types: somatoform and dissociative. The characteristics of somatoform hysteria are physical, or psychosomatic, symptoms. Conversion disorder is an example, in which neurological symptoms like fits, paralysis, and pain are present with no neurological cause. Those with somatoform hysteria are not faking their symptoms; in fact, these symptoms are caused not by biological factors but by psychological or inorganic factors. In dissociative hysteria, the patient experiences a loss of identity to some degree. Its common symptoms include memory loss and changes in personality. Like somatoform hysteria, this condition too is caused by psychological stress or trauma.

Symptoms of Hysteria:
There are several symptoms of hysteria, the most classic among them being dramatic fits, feeling of suffocation, coughing, paralysis of the limbs, fainting spells, as well as  sudden inability to speak and hear. Headache, palpitation, accelerated heart beat, clenched teeth, loss of consciousness, swelling of neck and the jugular veins are also symptoms of hysteria. Sigmund Freud reclassified several cases as anxiety neuroses which were earlier labeled hysteria. Nowadays, various manifestations of hysteria are recognized in conditions like conversion disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety attacks.

Causes of Hysteria:
According to recent psychiatric theory, hysteria is the body's attempt to handle psychological distress. This may prove beneficial to the affected person in a sense as he/she can shun whatever is causing the distress. For example, if a person becomes too sick to continue working at a job which causes a lot of stress, he/she gets a way out of his/her problem through hysteria. There are, of course, instances when it serves no real cause - for example, it is of no benefit if a person experiences symptoms of poisoning in a mistaken belief that he/she has been really poisoned. Among causes and risk factors of hysteria are brain tumor, dementia, mammaryphobia plague, depression, masturbation and traumatism.

Treatment of Hysteria:
There are some clinical inventories which may be used to assess the patient for hysterical tendencies, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) or the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III). These tests may be conducted in an outpatient or hospital setting by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Natural and Ayurvedic:
Psychotherapy is another option to help the patient gain insight into the cause of their distress. Psychotherapy focuses on supporting the patient and on helping him/her develop the necessary skills so that they can create meaningful relationships with other people.

Home Remedies:

  • Take honey 1 teaspoon daily.
  • Smell asafetida
  • Drink lettuce juice with Indian gooseberry.
  • Take milk along with apple, pineapple, grapes or jambula and apply pulp of bottle guard.
  • Go for yoga and meditation.

Cochin Ariya Vaidya Sala is best center for treating Hysteria
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