Erethism or erethism mercurialis is a neurological disorder which affects the whole central nervous system, as well as a symptom complex derived from mercury poisoning. This is also sometimes known as the mad hatter disease.
It is commonly characterized through behavioral changes such as irritability, low self-confidence, depression, apathy, shyness and timidity, and in some extreme cases with prolonged exposure to mercury vapors, delirium, personality changes and memory loss occur as a result.
People with erethism find it difficult to interact socially with others, with behaviors similar to that of a social phobia. Although most of the effects of erethism are neurological, some physical problems arise as well, including a decrease in physical strength, “headaches, general pain, and tremors after exposure to metallic mercury” as well as irregular heartbeat. It has been documented that “the tremor in the hands can be so severe that the victim is unable to hold a glass of water without spilling its contents.”
The primary risk factor for erethism is long-term exposure to mercury vapors