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Culture-Bound Syndromes: Ataque De Nervios

Ataque de nervios is a culture-bound syndrome that occurs most often in Latino cultures of the Caribbean, but it is also associated with other Latino cultures. Its literal translation is “attack of the nerves.”

The symptoms of ataque de nervios are transient in nature and typically occur suddenly in response to a severe psychosocial stressor. Symptoms include impulsive, dramatic behaviors such as screaming uncontrollably, crying, trembling and nervousness, anger and violence, and breaking things. Less common symptoms include seizure-like behavior, fainting, suicidal behavior, and dissociative experiences such as localized amnesia of events. Finally, brief psychotic symptoms such as incoherence, auditory hallucinations, and visual hallucinations have been documented during ataque de nervios episodes.

The occurrence of ataque de nervios in Caribbean Latinos appears to be relatively common. For ...

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