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Salud mental

Print version ISSN 0185-3325


BERENZON GORN, Shoshana et al. Exploring the emotional distress of women who attend primary health care units in Mexico City: A qualitative study. Salud Ment [online]. 2014, vol.37, n.4, pp.313-319. ISSN 0185-3325.

Emotional distress is the subjective sensation of diminishment in well-being which manifests itself in a number of unspecific symptoms. It might be a risk factor for the development of mental illness, especially among individuals with psychosocial or biological vulnerability. Recent studies show that primary health care services receive a growing number of patients who suffer distress, but do not fulfill the diagnostic criteria of a mental or physical illness. This phenomenon is more frequent among women. The objective of this paper is to analyze the emotional distress experienced by a group of women who attended primary health care institutions in Mexico City, as well as their perceptions and experiences around the attention received, in order to identify their treatment needs. Data was gathered through techniques and instruments pertaining qualitative methodology. The information was coded and analyzed according to the meaning categorization method developed by Kvale. The results show that the main triggers of emotional distress are associated to daily life worries (lack of money, problems with children, domestic violence, among others). In some cases, it is associated as well with traumatic events, such as violence and sexual abuse in the past or at present. Data also suggest that women do not talk about emotional distress directly during medical consultations and that health care professionals do not identify distress or minimize its importance. These aspects are related to the current characteristics of the service, which lacks a comprehensive approach and a psychosocial point of view.

Keywords : Emotional distress; mental health; gender; primary health care.

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