Ataque de nervios as a marker of social and psychiatric vulnerability: Results from the NLAAS

Peter Guarnaccia, Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, Igda Martinez Pincay, Patrick Shrout, Jing Guo, Maria Torres, Glorisa Canino, Margarita Alegria

Publish Year : 2010

Background: This article presents the fi rst epidemiological portrait of ataques de nervios among Latinos in the mainland United States. Much of the previous literature has focused on Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico and New York City. Aims: This study examines the social and psychiatric correlates of ataque de nervios in a nationally representative sample of Latinos in the United States. Methods: This study employs data from the Latino sample (N = 2554) of the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS). Analyses examined the associations between ataques de nervios and a range of social and migration variables, as well as psychiatric diagnoses and measures of mental health need. Results: Ataques de nervios were reported by 7-15% of the different Latino groups, with Puerto Ricans reporting the highest frequency. Ataques de nervios were more frequent in women, those with disrupted marital status, and those more acculturated to the US. The frequency of those who met criteria for affective, anxiety and substance abuse disorders was higher among those reporting an ataque de nervios. Conclusion: Ataque de nervios can serve as an important indicator of social and psychiatric vulnerability in future epidemiological and clinical studies with Latino populations.