Brain Fag Syndromein Western Africa

The Culture-bound syndrome (CBS) I decided to pick and write my post on is Brain Fag Syndrome (BFS) taking place primarily in Western Africa. After reading up on it, it really sounds like something that us college students here are really familiar with, as it is typically corresponding with stress and anxiety related problems relative to African students over exerting themselves mentally. As described in the journal, many symptoms include that of which are common amongst stress and anxiety, like cognitive impairments or dysfunction, somatic complaints, and lack of sleep complaints. I found it interesting that the word “fag” with respect to the syndrome is thought to have been derived from fatigue, so essentially it sounds like they are just trying to describe brain fatigue. Studies done early on showed a relationship with between the condition, gender and socioeconomic status. Students who claimed they had BFS were typically males and that of a low socioeconomic status. A scale was developed for this culture related disorder based on a questionnaire given to the patients and was a way to some what quantify the level of case-ness. With the Folk sector being a very popular model of treatment to many illnesses in Africa, I found it interesting that within the journal it said that tradition healers of Northern Nigeria spent little to no time with patients of this syndrome and other psychological disorders because according to them they were deemed incurable. With a little help from Western medicine, a study was done in which students who had this syndrome identified by the questionnaire and scale, were given benzodiazepines, a common drug used to help treat and calm down many anxiety situations all around the world. After a few trials symptoms amongst many of the patients were showing to be relieved and overall health seemed to be increasing.

Adewuya, AO., O. Morakinyo, and BA. Ola. “Brain Fag Syndrome – a myth or… [Afr J Psychiatry (Johannesbg). 2009] – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19582315 (accessed July 18, 2014).

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