What Is Hysteria?
Hysteria is a mental health disorder that includes several sensory, motor, and psychic disturbances: this disorder was termed hysteria by Hippocrates, and it was believed that the cause of the disease is “hysteron,” which means movement of the uterus in greek. Thus was considered a disorder for females. Presently hysteria is also called conversion disorder. Hysteria is the first medical disorder attributed to women and is believed to stand at the base of the psychiatric triangle. It is also described as emotionally charged behavior, where a person reacts inappropriately to the situation. Recent studies have shown a significant decline in hysteric behaviors due to improved socioeconomic standards, or even if seen are associated with other underlying mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, etc.
What Are the Types of Hysteria?
Hysteria is classically divided into two types:
- Primary Hysteria: It is caused due to substantial personality disorder.
- Secondary Hysteria: It is caused by underlying mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
What Are Hysterical Behaviors?
An individual with hysteria can present with a wide variety of symptoms as the underlying anxiety and depression cause physical symptoms. Following are the common clinical signs and symptoms presented:
These disturbances include paresthesia, hypersensitivity, and complete or partial loss of sensation. In severe cases, hysteria may also cause damage to other sensory organs and cause blindness, hearing loss, and loss of taste or smell.
Motor symptoms include complete paralysis, tremors, or convulsions. When the disease progresses, it may even cause loss of speech, vomiting, hiccuping, etc. However, when undergoing a neurological examination of the affected site, these individuals present intact neuromuscular apparatus with normal electrical activity, response, and stimulation.
These symptoms are generally called dissociative reactions, where a person presents with attacks of amnesia and sleepwalking and can also present with multiple personalities. For example, a person with a dissociative reaction sometimes forgets his name or house address or has a split personality. Females with hysterical behaviors can behave emotionally charged, and out of control.
What is Mass Hysteria?
Mass hysteria is an outbreak of unusual behaviors shared among a large group of people. Individuals with mass hysteria do not have any underlying medical condition but can have triggers or might have similar behavior patterns on a regular basis. The classic example of mass hysteria is the incident that took place across Europe in the middle ages, where a group of people started dancing without stopping till they fell due to exhaustion.
How Is Hysteria Caused?
The disease is considered to have variable causes. Initially, it was thought to be caused by uterine movements in females, but recent studies have reported that dissociative disorders are caused as a result of trauma which can be caused during the growing years as a child. The trauma can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Hysteria can also be caused as a result of childhood abuse or parental neglect. The cases of the disorder are often presented in low socioeconomic groups of very high-standard societies, which fail to give attention to their children as parents.
How Is Hysteria Diagnosed?
Hysteria is a historical term for various disorders that are present today. A person with similar symptoms to hysteria when presented today is diagnosed with other psychological disorders like:
- Dissociative amnesia.
- Dissociative fugue.
- Dissociative identity disorder.
- Illness anxiety disorder.
- Factitious disorder.
No significant diagnostic test is available to confirm the diagnosis of the disorder, but a person can be termed hysteric if he frequently presents behavioral symptoms. As hysterical individuals can become aggressive and can sometimes be harmful to themselves and the people around them, any such behaviors, when noticed repeatedly, should be reported, and medical help should be sought.
How to Avoid Hysteria?
Hysteria can be prevented during its onset by avoiding the conditions that promote the flare or growth of the disorder, or the symptoms can be controlled in various ways that help a person cope with the disorder. Following are some ways to cope with the disorder:
- Practice Mindfulness: Individuals must concentrate on the present and prevent overthinking, which can help in staying grounded.
- Practice Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises can help prevent anxiety and reduce stress.
- Write in a Diary: Writing down one's feelings on paper will help one feel relieved. Thus jotting down the negative feelings and letting them go will help.
- Get Physically Active: Physical exercises help one get over stress and lead a healthier life. Hiking, trekking, or other physical exercises can be helpful.
- Develop a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Sleep-wake cycles are important as our body requires sufficient rest to function normally to its full potential. Rest also helps to deal with stress and emotional distress in a better way.
What Are the Treatments Available for Hysteria?
Hysterical psych is difficult to treat, and the cure is nearly impossible. Therefore, hysteria treatment aims to control the symptoms and mood swings. Treatment includes psychotherapy.
Various therapies include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
- Mindfulness-based therapy.
Medicinal treatment can sometimes be used to control somatic symptoms of the disorder. Some commonly used drugs in the treatment of hysteria include Amitriptyline and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. During the ancient ages, medical vibrators were used for pelvic massages to treat female hysteria. Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, was the first technological advancement in medicine.
Hysteria, also called dissociative disorder, is a psychological and emotional disorder conventionally considered to occur in females due to uterine movements. It was thought to correlate with the sexual activity of a female. But in recent times, it has been associated with other psychological disorders based on the symptoms presented. Individuals with this disorder usually present with symptoms like emotional outbursts, hallucinations, blindness, decreased pain threshold, fainting or passing out, etc.
The disorder develops if a person has experienced abuse or had a traumatic childhood or past. Treatment of the disease mainly aims at treating and controlling the symptoms through various psychotherapies. Some medicines like Amitriptyline can also be used to minimize the symptoms. A person is advised to make life modifications and practice exercise, meditation, etc., to maintain physical balance, control emotional breakdowns, and cope with this disorder.
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