People Used To Think You Could Die From Homesickness

Announcement: the Curiosity Podcast is finally here! Subscribe on iTunes here, Google Play Music here and add the RSS feed to your favorite podcast player. If you love it please consider leaving us a review.

Today, we think of homesickness as a difficult but temporary affliction that commonly affects new college students, kids at sleepaway camp, or anyone moving away from a familiar place. But before World War II, homesickness was taken far more seriously. Its symptoms could include heart palpitations, a refusal to eat, and breathing problems. This sickness was termed "nostalgia" in 1688, and was listed as a common diagnosis and even a cause of death in war records. The Civil War in particular seemed to have an abundance of nostalgic soldiers: upwards of 5,000 men were diagnosed, and 74 allegedly died from the condition.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Bringing an item that's reminiscent of home to a new place can help reduce feelings of homesickness. 00:21

  2. Getting involved with a club or hobby can distract you from feeling homesick, and encourage you to live in the present. 00:55

  3. Visiting home isn't always a cure for homesickness—it can make some people feel worse. 01:15