Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 317-325

History and mystery of Dhat syndrome: A critical look at the current understanding and future directions

Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
T S Sathyanarayana Rao
Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore - 570 004, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_791_20

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Sexual health, an essential component of individual's health, is influenced by many complex issues including sexual behavior, attitudes, societal, and cultural factors on the one hand and while on the other hand, biological aspects, genetic predisposition, and associated mental and physical illnesses. Sexual health is a neglected area, even though it influences mortality, morbidity, and disability. Dhat syndrome (DS), the term coined by Dr. N. N. Wig, has been at the forefront of advancements in understanding and misunderstanding. The concept of DS is still evolving being treated as a culture-bound syndrome in the past to a syndrome of depression and treated as “a culturally determined idiom of distress.” It is bound with myths, fallacies, prejudices, secrecy, exaggeration, and value-laden judgments. Although it has been reported from many countries, much of the literature has emanated from Asia, that too mainly from India. The research in India has ranged from the study of a few cases in the past to recent national multicentric studies concerning phenomenology and beliefs of patients. The epidemiological studies have ranged from being hospital-based to population-based studies in rural and urban settings. There are studies on the management of individual cases by resolving sexual myths, relaxation exercises, supportive psychotherapy, anxiolytics, and antidepressants to broader and deeper research concerning cognitive behavior therapy. The presentation looks into DS as a model case highlighting the importance of exploring sexual health concerns in the Indian population in general and in particular need to reconsider DS in the light of the newly available literature. It makes a fervent appeal for the inclusion of DS in the mainstream diagnostic categories in the upcoming revisions of the diagnostic manuals which can pave the way for a better understanding and management of DS and sexual problems.



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