Neurasthenia and Its Treatment
Many people are almost as much in fear of the word neurasthenia and its meaning as they are of cancer and its meaning, One reason for this is that they have known of one or more people who have had neurasthenia in its most severe form and who have gone from doctor to doctor and still endured the affliction for many months or years. There is no need for this fear regarding neurasthenia. The term literally means merely loss of nerve strength but it may mean any degree of reduction of nerve energy and physical strength from the condition slightly below normal to one of nervous prostration or nervous exhaustion. The symptoms of neurasthenia may result from many causes, especially excesses of any kind, perhaps particularly dietetic, also the failure to observe hygienic laws.
Neurasthenia usually develops between early adult’s life and the age of fifty. Men have it more often than women, though there is no great difference in the two sexes. Apparently many people are born with a more or less unstable nervous system which makes them susceptible to neurasthenia from various causes that would not result in this ailment in many others. Fears and worries, anxieties, business cares, apprehension, grief or other severe shock, and certain diseases and their wrong treatment may induce neurasthenia. In almost every instance there has been insufficient physical activity with too much food, or excessive physical activity also with an excess of food. That is, there is no balance between the intake or food and output of energy; also there is no balance between activity and relaxation and sleep. Many of these cases have burned the candle at both ends. Consumption of protein foods and sugars in excess provides causes of this condition.
The symptoms vary a great deal, depending upon the inherent stability of the nervous system, the degree of nervous debility and the in duration of the various causes. In the mildest case there is merely a lack of energy and easy fatigue. As the severity of the condition increases or in other cases where the ailment begins fairly severely there will be a wide range of symptoms such as: failure of memory, insomnia, a sense of fullness at the top of the head or as of a band about the head, pain in the back, often in the neck, distension or the abdomen, with a moderate or more pronounced indigestion, constipation. Impotence in the male, deficiencies or excessive menstruation, anemia, loss of weight dread of the future and often fear of some impending physical, mental or financial calamity.
Anyone case may have only a few of these symptoms, but some cases seem to have most all of them besides individual ones that they may have heard about, read about or are able to conjure up. Often the symptoms seem to be centered in one or more organ or system of organs, in which case we have, for instance, "sexual neurasthenia," "gastric neurasthenia," etc. Whatever the symptoms may be the patient usually greatly exaggerates their importance.
Many cases of neurasthenia are difficult to correct for the reason that the affliction is mental as well as physical and it is quite difficult to get the patient into a cheerful or optimistic frame of mind. One of the characteristics of this disorder is to look upon the darkest side of life, to see only the cloud and never its silver lining, Neurasthenics as a rule are despondent and hopeless, and consider their condition incurable.