Hysterectomy and Depression

  • Maurice Greenberg


Ever since the Kahun Papyrus attributed disturbed behavior to the “wandering womb” 4,000 years ago, it has been assumed that an association exists between psychiatric and gynecological disorders (1). This presumed relationship gave rise to the term “hysteria” and has since been supported by frequent clinical descriptions. Hippocrates called menstruation “the bloody tears of a disappointed womb”, and Galen ascribed hysteria to female sexuality. By the end of the 19th centurey, the assumption that the uterus was an important source of psychiatric disturbance had become a fact, and Krafft-Ebbing stated that hysterectomy was followed by psychosis more frequently than any other surgical procedure (2). During the last forty years, attempts have been made to clarify this presumed association and these have generally focussed on the relationship between hysterectomy and depression. Since hysterectomy is the second most commonly performed operation for organ removal in women (3), is performed on at least 10% of women in the U.S.A. (4) and the U.K. (5) and is increasing (6), an understanding of its psychological implications is of considerable importance. Although the complicated nature of this relationship should become evident, it is convenient to divide the studies up into those which investigate the claim that hysterectomy causes depression, and those which consider that depression leads to a greater risk of hysterectomy.


Psychosomatic Medicine Psychiatric Disturbance Organ Removal Menstrual Blood Loss Gynecological Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice Greenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineSt. Bartholomew’s HospitalLondon EC1UK

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