Vapours (disease)

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In archaic usage, the vapours (or vapors) is any of certain mental or physical states,[1] such as hysteria, mania, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, lightheadedness, fainting, flush, withdrawal syndrome, mood swings, or PMS, ascribed primarily to women and thought to be caused by internal emanations. This is related to the similar concept female hysteria. Vapours were considered to be the female equivalent to melancholy found in men[citation needed].

The word "vapours" was used to describe a depressed or hysterical nervous condition.[2] Today, the phrase "a case of the vapors" is most often used either melodramatically or for comedic effect.

Victorian era[edit]

In the Victorian era, a variety of conditions which affected women were referred to as "vapours." Women's tight corsets squeezed their internal organs; this was believed to be cause of "the vapours."

A description of someone having "a case of the vapors" was sometimes used for a person in a state of emotional agitation.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Vapors". Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  2. ^ "Vapors". MerriamWebster Medical Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-06-30.