This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Tenderness of the scalp; dilated pupils; headache; pain, pressure, and heaviness in the head; spots before the eyes; noises in the ears; irritability of temper; melancholy; fear of lightning, of solitude, of society, and other morbid fears; nervousness; peevishness; sleeplessness; bad dreams; morbid desire for stimulante; dryness of the skin; swelling of the hands and feet; tenderness of the spine, especially of the lower end; palpitation of the heart; excessive ticklishness; cold hands and feet; nervous chills; in some cases, great debility.
This disease includes a great variety of conditions which are closely related. Its real nature is a condition of the nervous sys tem in which there is a deficient development of nerve force. A patient suffering from neurasthenia may be either thin, pale, weak, or he may be fleshy, muscularly strong, florid, full-blooded. He may be suffering with either hyperaemia or anaemia of the brain, or may be free from either affection or liable to both conditions in alternation.
Neurasthenia is one of the most frequent of all nervous disorders. It occurs in all grades of society, but is much the more frequent among the more cultivated classes. It seems indeed to be rapidly increasing from year to year. Although it cannot be classed with such grave affections as softening of the brain and locomotor ataxia, it is deserving of serious attention, since it not infrequently leads to much more serious disorders, prominent among which may be mentioned the various forms of insanity. In some cases the brain is chiefly affected, while in others the spinal cord seems to be the principal seat of the disease. In still other cases both brain and spinal cord are equally affected.
All the general causes of the nervous diseases mentioned at the beginning of this section are active in producing neurasthenia. Among the most important of these may be mentioned excessive mental work, especially when of an irksome or worrisome character, loss of sleep, sexual excesses, especially youthful indiscretions, errors in diet, especially the excessive use of meat and the use of stimulating condiments. Alcoholic liquors and tobacco are exceedingly active causes of neurasthenia in men, while the use of strong tea and coffee are equally active in producing the disease in the opposite sex.
The habitual use of opium, chloral, and other popular remedies for relieving pain and producing sleep, are exceedingly productive of neurasthenia. Any cause which diminishes nerve power by interfering with the nutrition of the nerves, or by occasioning an excessive expenditure of nerve force, may be regarded as a cause of neurasthenia.