Archaic Terms for Mental Health Conditions

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Remember when Grandma referred to the Bipolar as people who often had "nervous breakdowns" and went to the big house on the hill?

People who suffer from "Manic Depression" are now people who suffer from "Bipolar Disorder, Type 1".

"Bipolar Disorder" is now broken down into Bipolar Disorder 1 and Bipolar Disorder 2.   

Bipolar Disorder 1 is what we think of when we refer to a classic person who is flying off the ceiling in mania with wild ideas, and when they are depressed, they just want to sleep forever, and feel like dying.

Bipolar 2 is a bit less cut and dried.  Bipolar 2 exhibits the awful depression a Bipolar 1 sufferer or a person with clinical depression suffers from, but their highs (hypomania as opposed to mania) are less extreme.  Instead of scaling The Empire State Building, a Bipolar 2 sufferer might opt to write a book in a week containing a thousand pages.

"Cyclothymic Disorder" is very closely related to Bipolar Disorder.  It is a step down from Bipolar 2, where a person suffers from depression and hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania, where one has a rush of ideas, but might not be as inclined to act impulsively, and can manage their symptoms more easily by keeping busy or starting a project.  Their highs and lows also don't last as long, and there may be small periods of regular energy and mood patterns in between depression and hypo-manic episodes.

People who used to suffer from "Nervous Breakdowns", are now know as suffering from a temporary acute anxiety and depressive episode.  This may be something that results form a trauma, or is a "Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome" type reaction.  I remember as a child hearing this term all the time.  I knew when somebody had a "Nervous Breakdown", they were going to the Psychiatric Hospital.  Its a catch-all term for a person suffering from something serious enough to need to be "hospitalized" in a psychiatric setting.

"Nervous Condition", is an old term used for a person who suffers from anxiety, a phobia that presents in anxiety, or something that prevents them mentally from being able to join the world fully and integrate themselves in society without freaking out.  Its a nice way of calling somebody "mentally ill".  Of course, today we know anxiety has nothing to do with one's nerves.  It has more to do with adrenaline, Serationin, Neuroprenephrine, and Dopamine and other related brain chemicals.

Depression was one called "Melancholia".  It makes sense, melancholy is the word at the root.

"Neurotic or Neurosis".  Neurotic means to react unusually and go overboard reacting to a situation.  A person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in modern terminology, would be considered to be Neurotic, or suffer from "Neurosis" or "Neuroses". 

"Shell Shock" was a term often used after The Vietnam War for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as we know it today.

"Deranged" or "Mad" were two catch-all terms for a mentally ill person who would react strangely to situations, talk to themselves, have odd ideas, or is mentally "different" or "diverse" in any way from the rest of the world.

"St. Vitas Dance", "Dancing Plague", "Chorea", or "Viper's Dance" was a term for what seems to be Tourettes Syndrome.  Its characterized by jerking, involuntary movements, also know as "ticks". 

"Acute Mania" was how any mental illness that presents high-energy, hyper behavior was characterized symptomatically. 

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association changed "hysterical neurosis" to "conversion disorder".

In Victorian times, female hysteria was a polite way of saying "sexual dysfunction". Men didn't have sexual dysfunctions, only women did, of course. Usually for treatment of this disorder, the doctor would massage the patient's genitalia with their hands or with "medical devices" until they achieved an orgasm.

"Moral Insanity" was considered to be mental illness in which the patient didn't experience delusions.


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