Mental Health Around the Globe

A fascinating NPR article discusses how different cultures around the globe describe mental health issues. 

People in Cambodia experience what we Americans call depression. But there’s no direct translation for the word “depression” in the Cambodian Khmer language. Instead, people may say thelea tdeuk ceut, which literally means “the water in my heart has fallen.”
Take for instance khyal attacks, or “wind attacks.” Cambodians who suffer from anxiety disorders often experience the quick onset of heart palpitations, blurry vision and shortness of breath. Like panic attacks, khyal attacks can happen without warning.
Anxious or depressed Haitians, on the other hand, may use the phrase reflechi twop, which means “thinking too much.” And in parts of Nepal and India, people use the English word “tension.”

All this points to a simple fact that complicates how mental health issues should be addressed: culture affects how we understand and express mental disorders.

As a result, psychiatrists around the world are researching these differences and developing culture-specific treatments.

"You've got to figure out what the core signs are for different people," Hinton says. "Ultimately, it's just a matter of being an interested listener."

Posted on February 17, 2015 .