NEWS

Differ cultures have different forms of depression

A recent article in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, showed that the Chinese experienced depression differently from Americans and Europeans. Symptoms of depression in Chinese people are heart-related (pain, panic attack). The Chinese word for bliss literally means «open heart» and for the words sadness and melancholy, the ideogram for heart and error are used together. Using the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to assess mental illness is problematic. Some illnesses are culture-specific. The syndrome «taijin kyofusho» is prevalent in Japan. Patients feel their body is unsightly and bothersome to others. Patients suffering from the Koro syndrome, common in Malaysia, China and Thailand, are afraid the penis or the nipples in (women) will recede into the body, causing death. In Mexico and Central America people suffer from the «susto» syndrome where they believe that the soul has abandoned the body as a result of a terrifying event. In the West, the number of young people suffering from depression doubled from 7 percent to 14 percent between 1981 and 1996, as revealed by a survey conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That figure today though is much higher.