- Neurasthenia: causes
- Neurasthenia: symptoms
- Neurastenia: differentiation
- Neurasthenia: treatment
- Neurasthenia: prognosis
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Neurasthenia is manifested primarily by chronic fatigue, but it may also result in concentration disorders and irritability, as well as headaches and abdominal pain. In fact, the range of ailments occurring in people with neurasthenia is quite wide, meanwhile - although neurasthenia was talked about at the end of the 19th century - it is still unclear to this day what causes neurasthenia. Neurasthenia can significantly worsen the functioning of patients - are there any treatment methods?
Neurastheniais a unit belonging to the group of neurotic disorders. In fact, in the literature, there are separate opinions about who first distinguished this problem, but most often the creator of the concept is George Beard, a neurologist from New York. It was this specialist who in 1869 described neurasthenia as a unit associated with numerous ailments concerning both the psyche and the human body.
Neurasthenia can be treated as a problem that is somewhat controversial. Well, just as neurasthenia is included in the list of disease entities in the ICD-10 classification (it is included in the group of other neurotic disorders), we will not come across this term in the American psychiatric classification of DMS - neurasthenia does not appear in the DSM for several years. version of this classification.
The main problem with neurasthenia is that its symptoms may resemble another entity that is becoming increasingly common nowadays - chronic fatigue syndrome. There are even situations where the two problems - i.e. neurasthenia and chronic fatigue syndrome - are treated as the same. In reality, however, there are several significant differences between these entities (regarding, for example, their pathogenesis).
The exact incidence of neurasthenia itself is unfortunately not known. This situation results, for example, from the lack of clarity regarding the principles of diagnosing neurasthenia, as well as the fact that some patients struggling with this problem simply do not have it diagnosed.
At the time when the term neurasthenia appeared, its authors stated that this entity appears as a result of depletion of a person's "nervous resources". In that case, the neurasthenia would bedevelop in patients when their broadly understood nervous system would be subjected to an exceptional load, e.g. related to the duties performed or the experience of chronic, significant stress.
Generally, however, it should be emphasized that so far - despite the fact that the described unit has been distinguished for a long time - it has not been possible to clearly define the exact causes of neurasthenia. Genetic factors are suspected to be involved in its development (people with a family history of neurasthenia are themselves at increased risk of this individual), as well as various events that have a significant impact on the functioning of the human psyche. First of all, stress is considered to be a factor contributing to the occurrence of neurasthenia in people.
In fact, not much is known about neurasthenia. However, it has already been noticed in whom this problem is most often reported - neurasthenia is most often diagnosed in patients between the ages of 20 and 55. Characteristic for this unit is also the fact that it develops more often in people occupying high positions at work, and that neurasthenia is more often found in people with higher education.
In the course of neurasthenia, the ailments occurring in patients concern both the mental and physical spheres. In the first of these cases, fatigue occurs mainly in patients. Yes, after a hard day's work or a full-day care for young children, every person is tired, but what is characteristic of neurasthenia is that people suffering from it experience chronic and unjustified fatigue. This feeling may appear in them even after performing activities that do not require a lot of effort, and it may be so severe that it will significantly limit the ordinary, everyday functioning of patients.
Apart from fatigue, neurasthenia is also characterized by other disorders, such as:
- deterioration of concentration and attention
- mood swings (patients may become irritable and may experience unjustified bouts of crying or anger)
- sleep disorders (especially in the form where sleep - even sufficiently long - does not allow the patient to rest properly)
- hypersensitivity to various stimuli (e.g. to light or louder sounds)
Due to the dominant psychological symptoms of neurasthenia in the patient, there are two types of this entity. The first is the hyposthenic type, where the feeling of fatigue is most pronouncedand weakness. The hypersthenic type of neurasthenia, in turn, is associated with the fact that the patient experiences primarily tension, irritability and outbursts of anger.
Neurasthenia - as already mentioned above - leads to various somatic disorders. Patients suffering from this type of neurotic disorders may in this case struggle with such symptoms of neurasthenia as:
- unjustified increase in body sweating
- feeling of rapid or irregular heartbeat
- constipation or diarrhea
- stomach pains
- accelerated breathing
- potency disorders
- muscle and joint pain
- chest pains
Neurasthenia, as you can see above, is an entity with rather uncharacteristic symptoms. For this reason, it is necessary to exclude the existence of other diseases in the patient - especially somatic - which may lead to the appearance of similar ailments. Neurasthenia must be differentiated, e.g. with cardiological diseases (e.g. with cardiac arrhythmias) or with various hormonal disorders.
In order to be able to diagnose neurasthenia, the patient should also exclude the fact that his ailments occur due to the presence of some other mental disorders, such as, for example, depression or generalized anxiety disorder. In addition to those already mentioned, the criteria for diagnosing neurasthenia also include the fact that in order to diagnose this problem, it is necessary to state that the patient experiences persistent fatigue for at least 3 months.
In the treatment of neurasthenia - as in the case of other neurotic disorders - psychotherapeutic interactions play a fundamental role. Patients may be recommended various types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. Exercise and relaxation techniques can also improve the condition of patients with neurasthenia. Sometimes, when environmental factors such as a heavy work environment are considered to be the causes of neurasthenia, patients may be advised to change the environment (if possible, of course).
As for pharmacological treatment, it is actually rarely used in neurasthenia. Some patients may be recommended antidepressants, but such treatment applies only to those with clearly marked mood disorders.
Neurastenia is unfortunatelya unit that is not easy to treat. The very scope of possible symptoms of neurasthenia shows that this problem can significantly worsen the functioning, whether social or professional, of people struggling with it. Treatment of neurasthenia may take quite a long time, but patients should not get discouraged, because regular therapy, combined with other methods that positively influence the patients' well-being (e.g. with physical activity or relaxation exercises), can significantly improve both mental and mental he alth. somatic disorder of patients with neurasthenia. Sources:1. Psychiatry, vol. 2. Clinical psychiatry. Ed. S. Pużyński, J. Rybakowski, J. Wciórka. Edra Urban & Partner Publishing House, Wrocław 20112. Crocq M-A., The history of generalized anxiety disorder as a diagnostic category, Dialogues Clin. Neuroscience, 2022 Jun; 19 (2): 107-116; on-line access: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573555/About the authorBow. Tomasz NęckiA graduate of the medical faculty at the Medical University of Poznań. An admirer of the Polish sea (most willingly strolling along its shores with headphones in his ears), cats and books. In working with patients, he focuses on always listening to them and spending as much time as they need.