Abstract This report describes preliminary findings about the connections between type 2 diabetes, mental health, and normative social roles among women living in Delhi, India. We conducted freelist interviews with 62 diabetic and nondiabetic women about women's roles, perceptions of diabetes, and “tension,” a common Hindi-language idiom used to express stress. Using the freelist results, we produced and then administered a questionnaire to a pilot sample of 33 diabetic women. Among the diabetic women, physical symptoms of diabetes predicted higher biomedical anxiety and “tension,” whereas difficulties achieving gender-specific social roles predicted higher biomedical depression. We conclude that both physical symptoms of diabetes and difficulties achieving socially important roles contribute to poor mental health among these diabetic women; further research will clarify the relationships among depression, anxiety, “tension,” and women's physically and socially mediated experiences of diabetes.
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