Hypochondriac Affection, or Hypochondriasis, may be defined to consist in a corrupted state of the stomach and intestines, accompanied with languor, dejection of mind, and fear arising from insufficient reasons, in persons of a melancholy disposition.
Among the numerous causes contributing to generate this tormenting affection, the most frequent are, acrimony of the bile; pletho-ra; a preternatural viscidity, or stagnation of the blood ; arid suppressions of the customary evacuations. To these may be added an hereditary disposition ; too free indulgence in wine; repelled eruptions ; violent passions of the mind,
Few persons of a sedentary life are entirely free from this complaint ; which, if neglected, is more troublesome than dangerous; but if it be improperly treated, it may occasion various diseases of a more fatal tendency, such as melancholy, jaundice, palsy, apoplexy, etc.
The cure or removal of hypochondriasis must be attempted by those medicines which are calculated to counteract occasional causes, and obviate the more urgent symptoms: hence gentle laxatives, aciddlated and chalybeate waters, as also copious draughts of cold water, have often been pro-ductive of the best effects. Emollients, diluents, the cold-bath, Peruvian bark, and exercise, especially riding on horseback, if judiciously resorted to, have all been found of service.
Hypochondriac patients ought never to fast long; their diet should be solid and nourishing; they ought carefully to avoid all acescent and flatulent vegetables. One of their principal objects, however, ought to be that of preserving the mind constantly in a cheerful and serene state. Nor should they neglect to rub, if possible, the whole body, every morning and evening, tor ten minutes, or longer, with coarse flannel cloths. - Where the patient's circumstances can support the expence, a voyage to a warmer climate will be of greater advantage than medicines; though a rigorous adherence to a proper diet and regimen, at home, may also restore his health, and more certainly than luxury and dissipation abroad.