People of Asian cultural origin have been reported to emphasize somatic rather than psychological symptoms when they are depressed. However, a recent study investigated 190 Chinese immigrants with depression in a primary care clinic and reported that they were more likely to report depressed mood, rather than physical symptoms. We performed a qualitative analysis of the chief complaint narratives of 57 Chinese immigrants with major depressive disorder who were referred to a behavioral health clinic. These patients’ chief complaints included insomnia, sadness, anxiety, cognition issues, being irritated/annoyed, having low energy/motivation, and stress. Among this population, 70.18 % presented psychological symptoms, 5.26 % presented somatic symptoms, and the remaining 15.8 % presented only neutral symptoms (e.g. ‘low energy’, ‘loss of appetite’, and ‘insomnia’). Our findings show that depressed Chinese Americans at outpatient clinics present predominantly psychological and not somatic symptoms. This may reflect a new trend of symptoms reporting among Asian Americans with depression.
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