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Etymology: L, nervus + prosternere, to throw down
a condition of irritable weakness and depression, which may be psychogenic or the result of a severe prolonged illness or exhausting experience.
A condition described in the late 1800s as being uniquely American, believed to most commonly affect those who performed cerebral work (e.g., physicians, lawyers and inventors), which is now known as stress. Reported findings included a loss of interest in mental labour and heart disturbances. Neurasthenia was viewed as a reflection of the natural superiority of the American culture and a product of the progress and refinement of modern civilisation; treatments included cold water cures, diets, exercise, arsenic and many others.
General physical and nervous exhaustion. Synonym: neurasthenia
See also: prostration