"Guardarse las cosas adentro" (keeping things inside): Latina violence survivors' perceptions of depression

Christina Nicolaidis, Marlen Perez, Angie Mejia, Anabertha Alvarado, Rosemary Celaya-Alston, Hilary Galian, Anandam Hilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Latinos are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to be adequately treated for depression. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is strongly associated with depression. Less is known about how Latina IPV survivors understand depression. Objective: To understand Latina women's beliefs, attitudes, and recommendations regarding depression and depression care, with a special focus on the impact of gender, ethnicity, violence, and social stressors. Design: Focus group study. Participants: Spanish-speaking Latina women with a lifetime history of IPV and moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Approach: We used a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to conduct a thematic analysis using an inductive approach. Results: Thirty-one women participated in five focus groups. Women felt depression is caused by "keeping things inside". They also felt that keeping things inside could lead to physical illness or an inability to function. Their inability to talk was fueled by issues such as stigma, fear, isolation, cultural norms, or simply "not having the words". They felt that the key to treating depression was finding a way to talk about the things that they had kept inside. They greatly valued information about depression and appreciated learning from providers that their physical symptoms were caused by depression. They wanted confidential depression care programs that not only helped them deal with their depression, but also addressed the violence in their lives, gave them practical skills, and attended to practical issues such as childcare. They had negative attitudes toward antidepressants, primarily due to experiences with side effects. Negative experiences with the health care system were primarily attributed to lack of good healthcare insurance. Conclusions: The concept of "keeping things inside" was key to participants' understanding of the cause of depression and other health problems. Clinicians and depression care programs can potentially use such information to provide culturally-appropriate depression care to Latina women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1131-1137
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Latinos
  • community-based participatory research
  • depression
  • disparities
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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