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(also known as asthenic condition, syndrome, or reaction or as neuropsychical weakness), a condition of illness manifested by excessive fatigue and exhaustion accompanied by extreme instability of mood, weakened self-control, impatience, restlessness, disrupted sleep patterns, inability to perform prolonged mental and physical work, and inability to tolerate loud sounds, bright lights, and pungent smells. Asthenia may be the result of an exhausting illness of the internal organs, infection, intoxication, or excessive emotional, intellectual, or physical tension; it may also be caused by incorrectly organized work, rest, or nutrition or by nervous and mental disease. Asthenia produced by nervous exhaustion, emotional upset, or difficult, usually prolonged, emotional strain or conflict is known as neurasthenia.
Asthenia may appear in the early stages of a disease of the internal organs—for example, a coronary—or it may accompany this type of illness as one of its manifestations—as in ulcers, tuberculosis, and other chronic diseases. It may also follow an acute illness (pneumonia or influenza). The manifestations of asthenia depend on the basic illness that caused it. In atherosclerosis there is a loss of memory and tearfulness; with hypertension there are various kinds of headaches and unpleasant sensations around the heart. The symptoms of asthenia are characteristic of the early stages of schizophrenia. Defining the characteristics of asthenia often helps in the recognition of the basic illness causing it. Treatment is aimed toward eliminating the basic causes. Treatment that generally strengthens the body is also necessary—the administration of glucoses and vitamins, physical exercise, the correct organization of work and rest, walks, regular and proper nutrition, and restoration of sleep. Tranquilizing drugs are also indicated.
REFERENCESBamdas, B. S. Astenicheskie sostoianiia. Moscow, 1961.
Kreindler, A. Astenicheskii nevroz. Bucharest, 1963.
B. S. BAMDAS