Friday Factoids: Cambodians Have No Word for Depression

Mental health issues are a part of our existence and are experienced globally. The descriptions, terms, and phrases used to communicate these experiences are influenced by culture and often altered by the process of translation.


For example, Haitians who are feeling anxious or depressed may use the phrase reflechi twop, which means “thinking too much.” In the Cambodian Khmer language, there is not a direct translation for depression, so someone suffering from depression may instead say thelea tdeuk ceut, which literally means “the water in my heart has fallen.”


The World Health Organization has made global access to mental healthcare one of its key goals. As these services become more widely available and embraced by different cultures, providers should become increasingly mindful of cultural nuances that can color the ways in which people approach and respond to treatment.


Singh, M. (2015). Why Cambodians Never Get Depressed.


Graham Martin, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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