Masked Depression: Cultural Aspects
Depression is not only the commonest illness seen in the practice of psychiatry, but it is also one of the commonest illnesses seen in the general practice of medicine. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is often missed because of a lack of appreciation of the various symptoms of depression by both the general public and professionals. This is particularly unfortunate since depression is essentially a treatable illness today.
One of the common causes of missed diagnosis is that in a certain number of patients depression is present in an unusual or atypical fashion. This has been referred to as "masked depression" or "depressive equivalent".
Some causes of this unusual presentation and how not to miss them are discussed. An informal clinical study, which points to certain social-cultural factors that may be important in such presentations, is reported. The patients from a cultural and linguistic minority group living in a larger and dominant culture may be more vulnerable to the "masking" of depression and thus cause misdiagnosis and mistreatment.
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