Tropical Journal of Medical Research

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What do bodily symptoms in African psychiatric patients mean?

Richard Uwakwe


Objective: To review the various bodily symptoms presented by African psychiatric patients and attempt to understand them.

Method: The literature on bodily (somatic) symptoms is surveyed with special reference to Africans and examples are drawn from a focused group discussion in one African rural community. An attempt to explain these bodily symptoms is made from the point of view of current psychosocial distress.

Results: African psychiatric patients have a bewildering number of bodily complaints. These bodily complaints may accompany known psychiatric entities or may present simply as somatic symptoms with no other known mental disorders.

Conclusion: One way of appreciating the meaning and significance of bodily symptoms in Africans is by analyzing the associated psychosocial distress.

Keywords: patients, bodily symptoms, psychiatry, African

Tropical Journal of Medical Research Vol. 9(1) 2005: 11-17
AJOL African Journals Online