A Glossary of Distress Expressions Among Kannada-Speaking Urban Hindu Women

Lesley Jo Weaver, Shivamma Nanjaiah, Fazila Begum, Nagalambika Ningaiah, Karl Krupp, Purnima Madhivanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People’s lived experiences of distress are complex, personal, and vary widely across cultures. So, too, do the terms and expressions people use to describe distress. This variation presents an engaging challenge for those doing intercultural work in transcultural psychiatry, global mental health, and psychological anthropology. This article details the findings of a study of common distress terminology among 63 Kannada-speaking Hindu women living in Mysuru, the second largest city in the state of Karnataka, South India. Very little existing scholarship focuses on cultural adaptation for speakers of Dravidian languages like Kannada; this study aims to fill this gap and support greater representation of this linguistic family in research on mental health, idioms of distress, and distress terminology. Between 2018 and 2019, we conducted a 3-phase study consisting of interviews, data reduction, and focus group discussions. The goal was to produce a non-exhaustive list of common Kannada distress terms that could be used in future research and practice to translate and culturally adapt mental health symptom scales or other global mental health tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-383
Number of pages17
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Cultural adaptation
  • Idioms of distress
  • India
  • Kannada
  • Mental health
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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