Susto Syndrome

The Susto Syndrome is a so-called culture-bound syndrome that is predominantly found among South American cultures. Although known in different places by different names, the basic Susto Syndrome consists of a fairly standard set of symptoms that includes disturbed sleep, listlessness, loss of appetite, apathy, fatigue, depression and asociality.
It is thought that the Susto Syndrome is a culturally-defined escape from the perceived pressures and tensions of life, a temporary collapse of the psychic organisation of the individual and consequently of his ability to deal normally with his live problems.

Because ‘susto’ means ‘fright’, the Susto Syndrome may be a culturally dependent variation of the symptoms of panic attack, distinct from anxiety and depressive disorders[1].

Depending on the background of the patient, the Susto Syndrome is sometimes conceptualized as a case of spirit attack.

[1] Weller et al: Susto and nervios: expressions for stress and depression in Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry - 2008

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