People Used To Think You Could Die From Homesickness

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.

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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

Written by Curiosity Staff March 1, 2016