Kufungisisa ("thinking too much" in Shona) is an idiom of distress and a cultural explanation among the Shona of Zimbabwe. As an explanation, it is considered to be causative of anxiety, depression, and somatic problems (e.g., "my heart is painful because I think too much"). As an idiom of psychosocial distress, it is indicative of interpersonal and social difficulties (e.g., marital problems, having no money to take care of children). Kufungisisa involves ruminating on upsetting thoughts, particularly worries.
Kufungisisa is associated with a range of psychopathology, including anxiety symptoms, excessive worry, panic attacks, depressive symptoms, and irritability. In a study of a random community sample, two-thirds of the cases identified by a general psychopathology measure were of this complaint.
In many cultures, "thinking too much" is considered to be damaging to the mind and body and to cause specific symptoms like headache and dizziness. "Thinking too much" may also be a key component of cultural syndromes such as "brain fag" in Nigeria. In the case of brain fag, "thinking too much" is primarily attributed to excessive study, which is considered to damage the brain in particular, with symptoms including feelings of heat or crawling sensations in the head.
Related conditions in other cultural contexts
"Thinking too much" is a common idiom of distress and cultural explanation across many countries and ethnic groups. It has been described in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and among East Asian and Native American groups.
Related conditions in DSM-5
Major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, persistent complex bereavement disorder.