London, Oct 19 : In the modern world, the pain of unrequited love often goes uncured, but during Elizabethan times lovesickness was considered a medical condition to be treated and cured with sex, shows new research.
Dozens of previously unseen doctors' reports, diaries and prescriptions show how patients were treated in hospital for the 'disease' of lovesickness.
Symptoms listed included depression, inflammation of the body, excessive erotic desire, irrational thoughts and a loss of self-control, researchers from the University of Bristol found.
Love sickness, the term, would now be considered to be unrequited or forbidden love or the distress of being broken-hearted.
Doctors prescribed remedies including potions, diets, mental exercises and listening to music.
Whereas, in drastic cases, surgery known as bloodletting was performed to release blood and semen from the body.
However, doctors believed that the most successful remedy was simply to have sex.
Dr Lesel Dawson of the University of Bristol, who carried out the research, said that feelings of love sickness were particularly prevalent when people weren't allowed to express love, which caused anger and frustration and then turned into a mental illness.
"Love sickness was often quite a 'class crossed' love when a rich person was in love with a servant or a poor girl but they weren't allowed to express that," the Telegraph quoted her, as saying.
Dawson, whose results are published in the book 'Lovesickness and Gender in Early Modern English Literature' said that the best cure was seen to be sex - and this would often be recommended to the patient's family.
She said: "When they visited doctors 'love' was represented as an infectious malady caught through the eyes which triggered an immediate physical reaction.
"According to early modern writers, sex expelled the lover's excess blood and seed, which accumulated in the body and putrefied, releasing harmful vapours that could cause melancholy."