I Have Depression Living Abroad: What To Do?

I have Depression living abroad: What to do?

I have depression living abroad and I don’t know how to get out of this situation “. This is a common reason for consultation among people who attend online psychotherapy sessions, since living in a country where they still feel somewhat lost, they prefer to hire the services of a psychologist from their place of origin.

These types of complaints are just one more sign that they feel alienated from the country to which they have emigrated, and where they feel that they do not have the support they need.

The problem of depression among those who emigrate

More and more people are deciding to move and set down roots abroad, far from their cities or towns of origin. The reasons underlying such a decision are very diverse.

In some cases, migration is initiated by the desire to fulfill a personal objective, such as experiencing new experiences or taking certain studies abroad. But in many others, migration is rather conditioned by necessity.

Many people choose to live in another country in order to obtain a higher income, ensure a better quality of life for themselves or their children; also as an escape from natural disasters or war conflicts.

With just a brief reflection about the reasons that lead a person to emigrate from their country, we can notice that the entire experience, in the vast majority of cases, is far from being simple. Much of our psychological stability, especially on an emotional level, comes from having a network of support and containment that is meaningful to us.

When moving to another country, It is expected that interpersonal ties in the country of origin will suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, from certain deficiencies. For this reason, one of the main challenges for migrants is to establish new social relationships in the place to which they have moved.

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Taking this into consideration, it is no surprise that scientific research on the subject shows that, first of all, It is the people who feel loneliest who are at greatest risk of suffering from psychological disorders such as depression. Distance can be very painful for people who have moved abroad and, given the particularities of migratory phenomena, it could trigger in some of them a depressive episode that is difficult to overcome.

Social rejection in the experience of migrating

As we said before, there are various reasons that lead a person to migrate. Although the experience of living abroad is to some degree difficult or painful for many, it is true that some cases present greater vulnerabilities than others. Definitely, The reason why a person emigrates and the conditions under which they do so influence their vulnerability.

For example, in some cases, the act of moving abroad may be involuntary—that is, it could be forced migration—which undoubtedly places the person or family in a more delicate situation and, at the same time, susceptible to a deterioration in well-being. On the other hand, adapting to the social norms, language and culture of the new country is quite a challenge.

This process can be turbulent for some people or populations, since we must consider that in certain sectors of society there still persists a non-integrative vision towards people who have undertaken a migration process. Several researchers claim that Immigrant populations, especially those from third world countries, are at risk for developing anxious or depressive symptoms since it is difficult for them to adapt to a new sociocultural environment when they perceive a look of “helplessness” or “rejection.”

How do depressive symptoms manifest abroad?

In this context, it is understandable that the symptoms of a depressive illness develop in many people. If necessary, they may experience a deep feeling of disinterest and find it difficult to feel pleasure in the events and/or hobbies they used to enjoy. Also, they find it difficult to get out of bed and continue with their routine, even when it is challenging or new when living in another country.

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Often, People who begin to feel depressive symptoms while abroad tend to experience feelings of ruin or guilt—generally linked to the people or projects that were left behind, in their country of origin—, and if they need support from their loved ones, generally through video calls or text messages, they feel like a “burden” when being cared for.

What to do if I suffer from depression and am abroad?

If you are experiencing most of the symptoms developed above, you may be going through a depressive episode. It is important to be able to recognize them in order to ask for help in time. However, it is also crucial to emphasize that a diagnosis can only be carried out by a mental health professional capable of analyzing and treating the case in all its particularity.

1. Seek professional help

For this reason, the first – and main – advice for people who are feeling very low mood abroad is access a consultation with a professional. It is evident that, as we have developed, given the particularities of migratory phenomena, it is possible to encounter certain difficulties when accessing psychotherapeutic treatment. For example, it could happen that the language of the country of origin is not spoken fluently, or that the costs there are too high to pay for a consultation or sustain treatment in the long term.

However, there are certain alternatives to get professional help that we aim to provide below. One of the possibilities to overcome these difficulties is to find out if there is a public helpline – both in the country in which you reside and in the country of origin – that allows you to obtain free professional assistance. Fortunately, there are more and more psychologists and psychiatrists who work on this type of devices. Besides, many are trained to provide special care to migrants, given the massive nature of this phenomenon in some regions of the world. Another alternative is, if you can afford it but do not speak the language fluently, consult with a professional from your country of origin who works online, by videoconference.

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2. Contact other migrants

There are many people who have gone through difficult times when emigrating, and therefore, the places where they meet can be safe spaces to share their own experience and seek support and help. Today there are many groups on social networks, particularly on Facebook, in which people often provide valuable information for those who are abroad. Such contact networks can be useful for meeting new people. As we noted previously, the feeling of loneliness can be one of the main drivers of discomfort, and belonging to new social groups can reverse this situation.

3. Adopt an active lifestyle

Many people who emigrate enter a loop of living to work and working to live. However, depression thrives on this type of monotonous lifestyle marked by a lack of stimulation. It is important to do physical exercise, expose yourself to new experiences, and seek contact with others, whether they are friends or family.

The fact of contacting other people, in itself, is an action. The same implies asking for professional help or from a friend or family member. People who are experiencing a depressive episode find it difficult to take these types of actions since the mood they are experiencing can be overwhelming. However, the act of acting, despite the reluctance or discomfort they feel, is the first—and great—step to overcome this complex situation. The entire situation can be very difficult, and for that very reason it is important to remember: despite everything, there is always someone on the other side willing to help.