The Symptoms of Nervous Dyspepsia

Frontal headache; pain described as pressure in the back part of the head; peculiar sensations at the top of the head; pain in the eye-balls; sometimes pain in the upper part of neck, or extending down the spine between the shoulders; pain in spine, back of stomach, or beneath shoulder-blades; neuralgia; palpitation of heart; cold extremities; general debility; confusion of thought; loss of memory; irritability; groat nervousness; fidgets; morbid sensibility; melancholy; tendency to insanity; stomach cough; vertigo; blurring of vision; appearance of dark or bright spots, especially upon stooping; unnatural drowsiness, especially after meals; sleeplessness at night; languor in morning, feeling best in afternoon or evening.

The mutual sympathy between the stomach and the brain is very marked. Disease of the stomach may be produced by mental disorders, and various mental and nervous affections may arise from disease of the stomach. Cases sometimes occur in which the most prominent symptoms of dyspepsia manifest themselves through the nervous system, by which alone the disease may be made out. Such cases are included under this head. The stomach symptoms of indigestion are sometimes so very slight that they can hardly be distinguished; yet there is undoubtedly a serious fault in these cases in the elaboration of the food. The process of digestion is left incomplete, and the blood becomes full of crude, unelaborated material, which not only does not impart to the tissues new life and vigor, but is a direct source of irritation. The brain, being the most sensitive part of the nervous system, of course suffers most, and hence we have abundant cause for the mental depression, unbalanced mental action, confusion of ideas, vacil lation of judgment, perversity of disposition, and other kindred disturbances from which the nervous dyspeptic suffers.

Many persons, finding themselves in this wretched state, and not realizing the influence of physical conditions upon the mind, fall into hopeless despair, even when no outbreaking sin or intentionally wrong act has been committed. At first, there will be observed simply an exaggeration of real difficulties or misfortunes; but after a time the individual settles into a state of gloom, despondency, and mental depression in which he will suffer with troubles that are purely imaginary. Of these hypochondriacal persons, Dr. Cullen gave a very graphic description which we quote as follows:"In certain persons there is a state of mind distinguished by the following circumstances: a languor, a listlessness or want of resolution with reference to all undertakings; a disposition to seriousness, sadness, and timidity as to all future events; an apprehension of the worst or most unhappy state of them; and therefore, often upon slight grounds, an apprehension of great evil. Such persons are particularly attentive to the state of their own health, to every smallest change of feeling in their bodies; and from any unusual feeling, perhaps of the slightest kind, they apprehend great danger, and even death itself. In respect to all these feelings and apprehensions, there is commonly the most obstinate belief and persuasion."

Nervous dyspeptics often suffer much in mind from a morbid sensitiveness. They imagine themselves the subject of criticism or ridicule, become morose and irritable, and exceedingly unhappy. Occasionally they find themselves haunted with evil thoughts, with almost irresistible impulses to commit improper or criminal acts, as blasphemy, suicide, etc. They are almost always certain to imagine themselves the subjects of many different diseases, usually of some incurable malady.

It is observed that mental disorders of the character described are often the result of intestinal dyspepsia, a form of the disease in which the local symptoms are less prominent than are those which relate to the stomach, but equally grave.