Hysteria: Meaning; Causes, Symptoms, Types & Treatment

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hysteria - livayur

Hysteria is a term used to explain a complex and often misunderstood medical condition which has been a controversial and debatable topic throughout history. It is a term used to describe various unmanageable emotions exhibited by an individual but is often difficult to diagnose and treat. Since the word “hysteria” originates from the Greek word for uterus, historically, female hysteria was believed to be the norm and was thought to be a condition that affected only women. However, it has been proven that hysteria is an extreme psychological condition in which a person reacts to a stimulus in an out-of-proportion manner. [1]

Apart from this, it has also been seen that the condition can affect anyone, irrespective of gender, and has a range of causes and symptoms. The cause can be psychological, neurological, or other medical reasons, and manifestations can be shortness of breath, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, or sexually forward behavior.[1]

In this article, we will explore the hysteria meaning, the causes of hysteria, symptoms, types, and the available hysteria treatment.

What is the meaning of hysteria?

hysteria meaning - livayur

Hysteria meaning is fundamentally a clinical condition that includes both “somatoform” and “dissociative” disorders. The psychopathological state is a curable condition if identified early and managed appropriately.[2] Hippocrates coined the term, and it stands for a mental health disorder that comprises sensory, motor, and psychic disturbances. It manifests in the form of mental instability, fits of rage, and anxiety but continues to remain the symptom of a disease inflicted by specific physical or psychological trauma.

Hysteria has been associated with women for centuries, implying that it was nothing but a tool to control women’s behavior and bodies. However, over time, Hysteria meaning has taken on a new garb and is now associated with other underlying mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

What are the causes behind hysteria?

The causes of hysteria can vary significantly from person to person and between situations and may range from general upbringing to mental and physical abuse. Here are some of the most known factors that lead to hysteria disease:

  • Long durations of idleness of a person can have a mental impact
  • Heredity
  • Being sexually repressed leads to perverted thought processes
  • Incorrect emotional training during the growing up years of a child and family background
  • A sudden meeting with a friend or relative who may be objectionable
  • Long bouts of depression, fear, worry, trauma, mental strain, and sickness can lead to emotional meltdowns
  • Death in the family or of a loved one
  • Unprecedented failure in job/business
  • Mental trauma or physical bruise of great severity from the past
  • Bitterness and false allegations made by someone [1]

What are the symptoms of hysteria?

hysteria symptoms

A variety of signs and symptoms may manifest in a person who suffers from hysteria disease. These may include frustration, intolerance, irritability, whimsical behavior, intolerance, and emotional dependence, to name a few. Some common symptoms include:

  • One of the most common hysteria symptoms in females and males is displaying amplified feelings in the form of sobbing and throwing tantrums.
  • Cramps in the arms and legs
  • Constriction in the abdomen
  • Headache, suffocation, palpitation
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Clenched teeth
  • Urge to laugh or cry for no apparent reason.
  • Convulsions, violent heartbeat, poor willpower, emotional instability
  • Constriction in the throat [1]

What is the treatment for hysteria?

While no particular drugs are available for hysteria treatment, a patient of hysteria can be treated with certain stress-busting and mind-calming Ayurvedic herbs such as Ashwagandha, Jatamansi, Brahmi. These herbs can control emotional outbursts and promote restorative sleep.[4] Also, there are a variety of approaches to which a hysteria patient can be exposed to see what is most effective. Apart from psychiatric and psychological treatments, it should also include neurologists, cardiologists, and family therapists. Here are some therapies that are often applied when dealing with hysteria disease:

  • Behavioral therapy

In this, a patient is kept under observation when they are scanned for symptoms that are dealt with in specific ways upon identification. These include teaching different techniques that can help them cope better and reduce the severity of the symptoms.

  • Psychodynamic therapy

While this is often used to assist a patient in gaining insight, it will fail in the case of a candidate suffering from demotivation, less intelligence, lack of the ability to introspect, or one inclined towards behavioral acting.

  • Supportive therapy that is insight oriented

Through this therapy, a patient suffering from hysteria greatly benefits by making him aware of where exactly the problem lies. In this manner, they receive an insight into their condition and the exact stimulus that generated a specific response from them.[1]


  • What was the very first treatment that was developed for hysteria disease?

Female hysteria was initially the norm as the condition was only associated with women who were written off as demented or deprived of enough orgasms in ancient Greece. Thus the majority of available treatments revolved around women suffering from hysteria and involved the idea that sex was the remedy that could help women overcome these conditions. [3]

  • Is hysteria still considered a disease?

In several Western countries, hysteria disease has taken on newer identities now and is referred to as conversion or functional disorders.

  • Is there a way to prevent hysteria?

Experts have offered specific tips to prevent hysteria which include practicing mindfulness, doing breathing exercises, getting physically active, writing a journal, and adhering to a regular sleeping schedule.

This article has been written for informational reasons solely and should not be taken as medical advice. If you think you are hysterical, please talk to a medical expert.


Hysteria is a psychological and emotional disorder associated with only women for years together. This article delves deeper into the actual hysterical meaning, its causes, symptoms, treatments, and much more. Sometimes making lifestyle modifications and practicing various forms of exercise and meditation can go a long way in dealing with hysteria.


  1. Overview of Hysteria; Introduction, Review, Causes, Signs And Symptoms, Complications And Management
  2. “Hysteria” in clinical neurology
  3. Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health
  4. Ayurvedic Herbs to Fight Stress and Calm the Mind