Accepted paper:

Looking behind tears: emotions and symptoms in the everyday life of depressive women


Laura Cremonte (Università degli studi di Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

Crying is often seen as one of the clearest signs (or symptoms) of depression, and is reported as part of the daily life of depressive patients. The presentation aims to interrogate how symptoms and emotions are produced, redefined and interacted in the context of a psychotherapy group for women.

Paper long abstract:

According to the WHO, depression is defined as a "mood fluctuation" and has become "the leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major contributor to the global burden of disease". As it is widely known, a range of symptoms are taken into account in diagnosing depression, also to further classify the depressive episodes as mild, moderate, or severe. In order to problematize and possibly deconstruct the way emotions are being translated into symptoms and diagnosis, it's important to understand the complexity of suffering and its causes. Crying, in particular, is often seen as one of the most important "signs" (even though not exactly a symptom) of depression, and is accepted and reported as part of the normal daily habits of depressive patients. Looking behind the symptoms and through the everyday life of patients to interrogate how symptoms and emotions are continuously produced, redefined and interacted, is the purpose of my presentation. The paper will focus in particular on the different ways crying can work not just as a symptom, but as a mean of exchange and communication, while being aware of the multiplicity of experiences and meanings that involve crying itself (inside and outside depression). Thus, crying is examined as a shared medium among women who attend psychotherapy and support groups in a public mental health service in the city of Araraquara (Brazil): an ethnography of the relationships and practices inside these groups leads to reconsider the relevance of crying as a symptom and the process of naturalization of emotions.

panel P108
From bodily sensation to symptoms: consequences for healthcare seeking?