Notalgia Paresthetica is a condition which causes patients to have nostalgia feelings towards past events or situations. These feelings are usually unpleasant and can last from several days to weeks after the event occurred. Sometimes these memories become so strong that they interfere with daily life. For some it becomes impossible to live without them, while others experience only minor symptoms such as mild depression, anxiety, or even panic attacks when faced with reminders of the traumatic experiences.
It is not known exactly how common this disorder actually is, but there are many reports of cases where people were diagnosed with it. Some doctors believe that it may be genetic, while others think that it could result from other factors such as stress or trauma during childhood. There are no reliable statistics on the prevalence rate of notalgia paresthetica. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that its incidence might be higher than previously thought.
Symptoms of Notalgia Paresthetica
The main symptom of notalgia paresthetica is a strong desire to relive the past. This feeling lasts for several days or weeks after the event occurred. It can be any type of event, but most commonly it is a traumatic one. Once the symptoms appear, the patient begins to experience anxiety and fear about their current life situation and their future.
This creates a downward spiral in which the patient finds it very difficult to move on with their life.
There are several other symptoms of this condition. They can be mild or severe, depending on how badly the patient is affected by it. Not all patients experience all of these symptoms, but most experience at least a few of them.
Lack of Motivation
Phobias: Some patients develop a fear of objects, situations, places, or people that trigger memories of the event.
Overly-sensitivity to emotional situations
Mentally re-living the event during ordinary activities such as work or school
Loss of Appetite
Loss of Pleasure in Activities that used to be Enjoyable
Muscle Pain and Tension
Trembling/Shaking (It is common for patients to experience trembling or shaking after a traumatic event)
Sensitivity to Smells: Some patients complain that certain smells trigger memories of the event.
Sufferers of notalgia paresthetica usually develop one or more of the above symptoms. It is important to note that these symptoms will most likely interfere with the patient’s ability to work and perform other types of daily activities. Most often the condition will cause disruptions in a person’s social life and relationships with friends and family. It is not uncommon for patients to experience a loss of interest in hobbies, passions, and past-times.
How is Notalgia Paresthetica Treated?
Most doctors will start the treatment for notalgia paresthetica with prescription medication. This may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Cognitive therapy has also proven to be effective in treating this condition. It is during this treatment that the patient is taught how to properly cope with their thoughts and feelings about the event. This may include journaling, talking to a therapist, or other methods of distraction from their usual train of thought.
Some doctors will also send patients to participate in group therapy if they are suffering from social withdrawal as a result of this disorder. It is common for sufferers to become socially isolated in an attempt to avoid situations that trigger bad memories or feelings. In group therapy, a sufferer is typically put into a room with people who have experienced similar types of trauma. This allows them to interact in a safe environment while receiving support and guidance from a trained professional.
Other Treatment Options
Alternative treatment options such as acupuncture, meditation, and herbal supplements are becoming more popular among sufferers of notalgia paresthetica. Many of these patients use these treatment methods in conjunction with traditional doctor-prescribed therapy and medication.
Sources & references used in this article:
Notalgia paresthetica: a study on pathogenesis by E Şavk, ŞÖ Şavk, O Bolukbasi… – International journal …, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
Investigation of spinal pathology in notalgia paresthetica by O Savk, E Savk – Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2005 – Elsevier
Notalgia paresthetica by AB Pleet, EW Massey – Neurology, 1978 – AAN Enterprises
Notalgia paresthetica: clinical, physiopathological and therapeutic aspects. A study of 12 cases by N Raison‐Peyron, L Meunier… – Journal of the …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library
Localized pruritus-notalgia paresthetica by EW Massey, AB Pleet – Archives of Dermatology, 1979 – jamanetwork.com
Successful treatment of notalgia paresthetica with topical capsaicin: vehicle-controlled, double-blind, crossover study by J Wallengren, M Klinker – Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1995 – jaad.org
Successful treatment of notalgia paresthetica with botulinum toxin type A by PK Weinfeld – Archives of dermatology, 2007 – jamanetwork.com
Gabapentin treatment for notalgia paresthetica, a common isolated peripheral sensory neuropathy by MP Loosemore, JS Bordeaux, JD Bernhard – Journal of the European …, 2007 – piel-l.org