CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · J Neurosci Rural Pract 2017; 08(S 01): S094-S097
DOI: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_235_17
Review Article
Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice

Idioms of Distress

Geetha Desai
Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Santosh K. Chaturvedi
Department of Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
03 September 2019 (online)


The presentations of psychosocial distress and cultural conflicts are often bodily symptoms, especially in traditional societies and village backgrounds. These might not meet the criteria of the current psychiatric diagnostic systems. Sociocultural milieu contributes to the unique presentations of the stress in the form of idioms of distress. The latter are alternative modes of expressing distress and indicate manifestations of distress in relation to personal and cultural meaning. Health professionals often consider these as hysterical, functional or having functional overlays, and abnormal illness behaviors. Management of idioms of distress would need cultural competence and sensitivity. This article highlights the common idioms of distress in India with specific focus on bodily symptoms.