Expression and treatment of depression among Haitian immigrant women in the United States: clinical observations

Am J Psychother. 2007;61(1):83-98. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2007.61.1.83.


Existing research demonstrates that culture has a profound impact on the expression and manifestation of mental illness, especially on depressive disorders among ethnically diverse populations. Currently, little research has focused on the Haitian population, despite the growing number of Haitians living in the United States. This paper discusses clinical observations of the expression of depression among Haitian immigrant women living in the United States. Specifically, this paper examines three distinctive types of depression (pain in the body, relief through God, and fighting a winless battle), explains their symptoms, and provides case examples to illustrate the expression of each type of depression. Additionally, the paper describes treatment processes for each type of depression and makes recommendations to mental health providers with respect to each type of depression. The information provided in this paper highlights the importance of a more systematic and scientific investigation of depression among Haitian women, men, and youths in the United States.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Culture
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Ethnic Groups / ethnology
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Female
  • Haiti / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / ethnology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / ethnology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy
  • United States