Susto and nervios

Expressions for stress and depression

Susan Weller, Roberta D. Baer, Javier Garcia De Alba Garcia, Ana L. Salcedo Rocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Folk illnesses that are cultural constructions of psychological distress offer a vehicle for the cross-cultural study of stress and stress-related morbidity. This study explores the relationship between the Latin American folk illnesses susto and nervios and mental health. We hypothesize that these folk illnesses are distinct and that there is a stronger association between current levels of stress and depressive symptoms with past experience of nervios than with susto, because the cultural constructions of these folk illnesses reflect chronic and acute concepts of distress, respectively. Interviews were conducted in Guadalajara, Mexico, where participants responded to questions about their socio-demographic characteristics, stress, depressive symptoms, and whether they had experienced susto or nervios. Susto and nervios are very prevalent and occur across sociodemographic subgroups, with the exception that nervios occurred more often in women (p < 0.05). Susto was significantly associated with stress and depressive symptoms (p < 0.05), but nervios had a much stronger association (p < 0.0001), even after controlling for gender. Susto and nervios were expressions of psychological distress; most of those with depression reported susto and/or nervios. This study validates the link between these folk illnesses and stress and depression and may, ultimately, facilitate cross-cultural research on stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-420
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

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Depression
illness
Psychology
Mexico
Mental Health
Chronic Disease
Demography
cultural studies
Interviews
Morbidity
morbidity
chronic illness
mental health
Folk
Research
Illness
gender
interview
Depressive Symptoms
experience

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Folk illnesses
  • Nervios
  • Stress
  • Susto

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Weller, S., Baer, R. D., Garcia De Alba Garcia, J., & Salcedo Rocha, A. L. (2008). Susto and nervios: Expressions for stress and depression. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 32(3), 406-420. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-008-9101-7

Susto and nervios : Expressions for stress and depression. / Weller, Susan; Baer, Roberta D.; Garcia De Alba Garcia, Javier; Salcedo Rocha, Ana L.

In: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Vol. 32, No. 3, 09.2008, p. 406-420.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Weller, S, Baer, RD, Garcia De Alba Garcia, J & Salcedo Rocha, AL 2008, 'Susto and nervios: Expressions for stress and depression', Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 406-420. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-008-9101-7
Weller, Susan ; Baer, Roberta D. ; Garcia De Alba Garcia, Javier ; Salcedo Rocha, Ana L. / Susto and nervios : Expressions for stress and depression. In: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. 2008 ; Vol. 32, No. 3. pp. 406-420.
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