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Papers of the Week

2020 May 07

Int Rev Psychiatry

Neurasthenia: tracing the journey of a protean malady.


Bhola P, Chaturvedi SK
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2020 May 07:1-9.
PMID: 32378431.


Neuresthenia has had its popularity waxing and waning over the years. This review article traces the path and trajectory of the concept of this disorder, how it changed and varied over time, to the current times, when it has been almost forgotten and the concept is heading towards oblivion. Although its place in the diagnostic systems is currently in question, neurasthenia is still part of professional conversations and practice. The concept of neurasthenia emerged at the intersections of clinical, cultural and sociological dimensions of society. A deeper examination of how neurasthenia was situated at the intersections of race, class and gender exemplifies how psychiatric diagnoses may reflect and shape societal biases. The neurasthenia label has all but disappeared from contemporary nosological frameworks, however, there is a proliferation of other disorders, e.g. chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, that try to capture the experience of fatigue, pain, weakness, and distress even in the absence of clear-cut medical aetiologies. Only time will tell, if this concept has indeed been buried, or will rise as a phoenix in the years to come. Newer nervous fatigue syndromes are expected to emerge from the use of technology, screen time and the virtual world.