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What Are the Different Causes of Hysteria?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Hysteria is a type of mental disorder that develops in some people at times of extreme anxiety, and there can be a variety of individual causes for this condition. Some of the more common causes of hysteria include sexual disorders, fear, or intense levels of stress. Medical conditions that affect the brain, such as epilepsy, may lead to hysteria in some people. Some studies have suggested that hysteria is often an inherited condition, although this is not always the case. Any questions or concerns about individualized causes of hysteria should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Sexual disorders are among the most frequently reported potential causes of hysteria. Sexual repression or excess may be involved. Those who struggle with sexual thoughts or desires that are considered socially perverse are particularly vulnerable to experiencing bouts of hysteria. There have been significant numbers of adolescents diagnosed with hysteria in cultures that view masturbation as evil or sinful.

Intense stress or fear are among the possible causes of hysteria. A person who is unable to emotionally cope with normal life changes such as marriage, divorce, or death is at risk of developing hysteria, especially if there are other underlying mental or emotional issues present. A severe fear of responsibility or failure is also a potential cause of hysteria.

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Genetics or heredity is believed to be the cause of hysteria in some cases. Although an actual genetic link to hysteria has not been found, studies have shown that some families have a disproportionately large number of members who are diagnosed with this disorder. Some experts believe that this is more a matter of environment than of genetics, as exposure to nervous or paranoid family members can have an effect on a person's emotional reactions to the changes that life brings.

Traumatic life events or natural disease processes are additional causes of hysteria. Physical or emotional trauma, especially at a young age, increases the risks of developing hysteria in those who are emotionally vulnerable to this disorder. Diseases such as epilepsy, dementia, or the presence of a brain tumor may increase the chances of experiencing hysteria.

A doctor or therapist will usually take a detailed family history when attempting to determine the exact causes of hysteria in an individual situation. A combination of medications and talk therapy are usually recommended in the treatment of hysteria, depending on the underlying cause. If physical illness is found to be the cause, the individual disease process is treated as needed.

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