All Posts By:


  • Articles, Depression, Environment,, Goals, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Shero, Thinking Positive, Woman's History, Women's History

    Impact of Female Hysteria on Women’s Health

    What is Female Hysteria?

    Historically, hysteria was a common diagnosis for mentally ill women that disregarded and ignored their underlying issues.

    The concept of female hysteria dates back to Ancient Greece, where the term “hysteria” rooted from the Greek’s word “hystera,” meaning, uterus. Coined by Greek physicians, they believed that women’s emotional turmoil was linked to their uterus.

    The notion and correlation between a woman’s uterus and her mental health has continued throughout society for centuries. While this belief isn’t still held today, there were lasting repercussions. One of these being the gender bias in medicine influencing women’s healthcare, research, and perceptions of mental health.

    History of the Hysteria

    Although, Ancient Greece isn’t solely to blame for this stereotype. During the Elizabethan Era, the works of William Shakespeare; more specifically, Hamlet, have also contributed to the notion of female hysteria. Hamlet’s female character Ophelia; already dealing with her father’s death, had an unsuccessful relationship with Hamlet, thus, the burden placed on her by her family to conform to society’s expectations of her, eventually spiraled her into madness.

    While done inadvertently, Ophelia’s character further perpetuated the idea of hysteria to many audiences at the time. It was seen more as a horror story than the tragic one it was meant to be. This serves as a reflection of the societal expectations and limitations placed on women during the Elizabethan era. 

    These historical examples have impacted the narrative around women’s mental health and shaped how our society sees mentally ill women.

    How has this affected women today?

    While hysteria is no longer a viable diagnosis for women, it still affects women’s mental health in numerous ways. Many women in need of support face the stigma of being seen as “overly emotional” or “unstable;”  the sentiment held towards hysteric females in the past. This in turn deterred them from getting the necessary help they needed.

    Misdiagnosis also dissuades women from seeking professional help, as women today are still frequently misdiagnosed with the wrong disorders. This usually happens when their mental health issues are not taken seriously by healthcare professionals. (It happens more often than you think.)

    Additionally, gender bias within healthcare systems also leads to many women not seeking help, more so due to the system’s prejudices. Unequal access to suitable mental health care for women is a big problem and the idea of hysteria has helped support these stereotypes about mental health. Therefore, something that should be accessible to everyone is now challenging and difficult to obtain. We must acknowledge and address the stigma of these issues to ensure that women can receive appropriate care and support for their mental well-being.

    How can we challenge this idea? 

    To ensure that this harmful notion of the hysteric woman is dismantled, addressing the impact it has on both women of our past and women today. In order to do so, we need to work together to:

    • Spread Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the roots of hysteria and how this stereotype affects women today, we can dispel these misconceptions. Women’s mental health should be advocated for to promote empathy and understanding.
    • Creating Safe Spaces: Creating spaces for women who have struggled to have open and honest conversations about their experiences. Helping more women be able to seek out the help they need is our goal. This safe place should be all-inclusive and non-judgmental.
    • Advocating for Gender-Neutral Healthcare: Supporting the elimination of gender bias in healthcare systems is a start on mental health being tailored more toward females problems, not just emotion. This would also involve educating healthcare professionals and promoting policies encouraging fair and equal treatment for people of all genders. 
    • Research and Data: For people to take what we say seriously, we need data to back it up. Encouraging research on women’s mental health informs healthcare professionals on practices and policies to help reduce the emotional stigma.

    Breaking Hysteria

    Ultimately, the notion of the hysteric woman is rooted in unfounded ancient beliefs perpetuated throughout history. Acknowledging and challenging this notion is a start to ensure the well-being of women is taken seriously and given the gravity it deserves. We can do so by spreading education and awareness, creating safe spaces, advocating gender-inclusive healthcare, and promoting research.