Association News
Know Your Definitions
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 10 page 6-6

Mental health and illness are expressed in countless languages and intertwined with tradition, ritual, social mores, and culture.

It is noted in Mental Health: A Guide for Latinos and Their Families (see New Resource Educates Latinos About MH Issues) that" some traditional Latino cultures view and describe mental illnesses in different ways from most doctors in the U.S." As a result, "[m]ore and more doctors are learning about different cultural views on mental illness."

Here excerpted from the guide are two examples of common words in the Latino culture used to describe different emotional ills:

Nervios (nerves) refers to a general sense of vulnerability and stress brought on by difficult events. Symptoms include headaches and" brain aches, irritability," stomach pains, sleep problems, nervousness, easy tearfulness, and mareos (dizziness or spells of lightheadedness). This is a very broad syndrome. It may be mild and temporary or very serious and long-lasting.

Sulston means "fright" or "soul loss." It is also known as esparto, Pismo, tripe Ida, perdida del alma, or chibih. It is an illness due to a frightening event that causes the soul to leave the body, resulting in unhappiness and sickness. Typical symptoms include changes in appetite, troubled sleep and dreams, headache and stomach aches, sadness, and lack of motivation.

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