Neurasthenia is a syndrome of nervous weakness or exhaustion manifested by symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, depression, headache and other nospecific pain.
There are no characteristic pathological changes in this disease, and about all that can be said of the lesion is, that it consists of irritation of the nerve centers, followed by more or less weakness.
The symptoms are so varied and complex that it will simplify their narration to group the cases according to the predominance of certain phenomena; thus we have the cerebral, the spinal, the gastro-intestinal, the cardiac, the urinary, and the sexual varieties.
The general symptoms are great irritability, marked despondency, great prostration, both physical and mental, without sufficient cause, and loss of weight. So many are the symptoms that the patient, fearing that some may be forgotten, presents a long list of symptoms carefully written down.
The Cerebral Variety.—Headache is a prominent symptom, there frequently being tenderness of the scalp. Insomnia is quite characteristic, and the patient arises unrefreshed; there is more or less despondency; the patient is anxious, worried, and fearful of some impending danger. There is impairment of memory, and reading seems to tire the patient; in fact, a continued tired feeling is generally present.
The Spinal Variety.—Great weakness and prostration is a common symptom, the patient complaining of feeling sore and stiff on rising. Backache, with tenderness along the spine, is characteristic, while there is perverted sensibility, manifested by a tingling, crawling, or burning sensation, or certain parts will feel hot or cold; sometimes there will be lightning pains, simulating locomotor ataxia. Ankle clonus is sometimes present, while the reflexes are exaggerated.
Gastro-intestinal Variety.—Gastric disturbances, with their attendant symptoms, are the chief characteristics of this form. Hyperacidity, waterbrash, nausea, retching, and vomiting, with more or less headache, are present. The patient sleeps poorly, has unpleasant dreams, and develops an irritable disposition. There is flatulency, rumbling of the bowels, constipation alternated with diarrhea, and a sense of weight or soreness over the abdomen.
The Cardiac Variety.—While there is an absence of organic lesions, there is palpitation on slight exertion, precordial distress, and sometimes sharp pain as in angina. Throbbing of the abdominal aorta is a distressing symptom and one that causes much anxiety on the patient’s part. In some cases a capillary pulse may be detected. This group of symptoms causes the patient to become fearful of a sudden termination of life. Loss of flesh is apt to accompany this form.
Urinary Variety.—The quantity of urine voided is usually small, and albuminuria, oxaluria, and glycosuria may be present. The patient becomes irritable, and there is a dull headache.
Sexual Variety.—A victim of this variety is often an object of pity. The fear of becoming impotent preys upon the mind, the patient is melancholy, sleeps poorly, has nocturnal emissions, complains of pain or crawling sensations in the testicles, has perverted sexual desires, and frequently masturbates. The patient, worried and distracted, leads a miserable existence.
This is not often difficult. The physical and mental prostration without undue exertion, the multiplicity of symptoms, with due prominence of some one of the above groups, makes the diagnosis one of but little difficulty.
Where the patient has not become the victim of morphia, chloral, or alcohol, and where a rational treatment is early observed, the prognosis is favorable. Where the patient’s mind can be centered on something” besides self, and where hope can be aroused, the patient will recover.
Homeopathic Medicines & Treatment for Neurasthenia, Nervous Weakness, Prostration
Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution etc. A miasmatic tendency (predisposition/susceptibility) is also often taken into account for the treatment of chronic conditions. The medicines given below indicate the therapeutic affinity but this is not a complete and definite guide to the treatment of this condition. The symptoms listed against each medicine may not be directly related to this disease because in homeopathy general symptoms and constitutional indications are also taken into account for selecting a remedy. To study any of the following remedies in more detail, please visit our Materia Medica section. None of these medicines should be taken without professional advice.
Very useful for the numerous phobias of neurasthenia, fear of death, darkness, noisy people, music, crowds, fear of entering a trolley car or railway train. Anxiety as to some impending disaster has often been removed by Aconite. Cimicifuga is useful for fear of death or becoming insane, cervical vertebrae sensitive, neuralgic and uterine cases. Muscular exhaustion is a prominent symptom.
This remedy is to nervous debility what iron is to anaemia, and it corresponds to that debility arising from continued grief, over-exertion of the mind, sexual excesses or any nervous strain on the body or mind. The remedy is characterized by indifference, apathy, and torpidity of body and mind. There is burning in the spine and limbs and the patient is inclined to be drowsy and listless. Any attempt to study causes heaviness in the head and limbs. It suits also young, rapidly growing people, and especially cases of nervous depression from spermatorrhoea. Gelsemium. A mainstay in this disease. Stupid, dull, unable to concentrate mind; vertigo, dull ache at base of brain. Lacks self-confidence. Sudden emotions bring on diarrhoea or indigestion. Ignatia. Chronic worries, fears of misfortune and startled by slightest noise. Kali Phosphoricum corresponds to nervous dreads, oversensitiveness to noise, restless and suspicious effect of fright, grief, fear, sleeplessness. Excessive and exhausting mental labor. It is one of the best remedies we have and is probably often indicated. All observers agree that it is the most useful of the various phosphates.
Corresponds to nervous exhaustion when the patient dreads any mental or bodily exertion. He must get warmed up to his work to do anything. He is debilitated, yet hyperaesthetic. There is numbness in the toes, fingers and back, and the constipation peculiar to the drug is present. It suits cases that become exhausted after excitement ; as long as the excitement lasts they feel well, when the excitement is over the wretched feeling re-appears. It especially corresponds to the troublesome and persistent aching of the neck muscles and occiput.
corresponds well to the brain fag of business men who become depressed and wearied from slight fatigue. It is a mental inactivity, with a desire to lie down and rest. The great characterstic is that slight exertion brings on exhaustion and headache, incapacitating for work, and extinguishes that quality which we call grit. Even the slightest mental exertion causes heavy feelings and sensation of heat. The headache may be frontal or occipital and extended down the spine, in fact, the head symptoms seems to be concentrated in the occiput. Sexual irritability may be a prominent symptom. In the morning there is a tired aching in the lumbar region, the legs are heavy and weak with the soreness of the muscles and joints. It is of our best remedies in neurasthenia. It acts perhaps best in the 6th centesimal potency, though Dr. Goldsbrough thinks the 12th preferable. Cartier prefers Ferrum picricum where the weakness is prominent and in neurasthenic dyspepsia or indigestion. Oxalic acid is more suitable to cases where pain is a prominent symptom as in spinal neurasthenia and the stress of the attack falls on the digestive rather than the sexual functions. Physostigma. Mental and physical debility, rapid feeble pulse—especially spinal cases.
#Zincum metallicum. [Zinc]
When in consequence of exhausting disease the recuperative powers are weakened, and the nervous weakness shows itself in backache about the region of the last dorsal vertebra, and excessive fidgetiness of the feet, Zincum may be prescribed. There is burning in the spine, formication in the calves and weak limbs. A combination of this and Picric acid called Zincum picratum has been found useful when the spinal symptoms and exhaustion are prominent. Zincum phosphide is also a suitable remedy for brain fag of business men who become haggard, pale and sleepless and suffer from depression of spirits and worry. It is well recommended by Hale.
Weakness of memory, confusion of thought, sadness and depression, wants to be alone, despairs of salvation. It is frequently indicated in lithaemic neurasthenia with hepatic troubles, weakness of memory. Psoric or arthritic symptoms are to be expected in such cases. Sleep is restless, flatulence and constipation.
This remedy suits cases which stand on the border line between neurasthenia and organic spinal disease, and Hart considers it essential to cure in most cases. It is indicated by irritability and weakness, over-sensitiveness to all impressions; the head is weak and the patient cannot think; there is burning in small spots, better from rubbing ; the legs are weak with numbness and coldness and the sphincters are weak. It is a splendid deep-acting remedy and noises in the ears offer an additional indication. Coca is useful in mental depression, disinclination to work , and general debility, the least exertion is attended with fatigue. Phosphorus suits best those cases where the prostration is very sudden and the nervous system becomes exhausted, fearful of death, of the future, of being alone,anxious, restless, irritable, startled by slightest noise. Vertigo is prominent.
#Avena sativa. [Aven]
Weakness of nerves, tried brain, irritability, gets excited at least thing. Urine has excess of phosphates, history of sexual excesses and occipital headache. This remedy in appreciable doses of the tincture will calm and strengthen the nerves.—E. G. Jones.
#Nux vomica. [Nux-v]
Useful in irritable, excited, over-sensitive patients with defective memories, loss of energy, patients with whom everything goes wrong, trifling ailments are unbearable; there is intellectual incapacity and insomnia, nightmares, and if all these conditions are associated with dyspeptic troubles the remedy is all the better indicated. Anacardium has weakness of memory and general feebleness of brain power; the mental incapacity of this remedy is very pronounced. It suits “borderlanders ” between neurasthenia and insanity. Despair of recovery, fear of paralysis and death, imagines he is surrounded by enemies, fearful of walking in open air, and if anyone approaches. Argentum nitricum. Fear of dying when left alone, afraid to walk in streets lest he fall down in a fit or that high buildings fall upon him. Neurasthenia with nervous dyspepsia, eructations. Pulsatilla vies with Nux in the neurasthenia of men and is often neglected. It has sensations in the back as if tightly bandaged, the weary feeling in the morning. There is a general fatigue, heavy tired aching, not relieved by repose. Its general symptoms of venous stagnation will be present. Sepia, too, should not be overlooked; its general tired paralytic state corresponds to neurasthenic conditions. Fear of being alone, of starvation.
#Natrum muriaticum. [Nat-m]
Suitable for spinal neurasthenia; the small of the back feels paralyzed, especially in the morning on rising, the feet are heavy, there is a troublesome dribbling of urine, dryness of the mouth, sticky secretions and the skin is dry and mummified. Selenium has neurasthenia from sexual excesses, dribbling of prostatic fluid. Helonias. Neurasthenia with weak lumbo-sacral region; feels tired all over; better from motion or when the mind is occupied.