Recognising symptoms of depression while living abroad

There are people, who live alone, but they do not feel lonely. Then there are others, who are surrounded by their close ones, but they do feel lonely. Modern technology allows us instant contact with anyone in the world. Nevertheless, or maybe exactly for this reason, many people feel lonely. How to break free? Self-care or counselling might be the right solutions.

What is loneliness?

Loneliness seems to have the same foundation as solitude. But there is a significant difference. Solitude can have a positive effect, mainly on introverts. In small doses, it can bring release and relief. On the other hand, loneliness is a very anxious and negative state. In this state we feel, that our relationships are not the way we want them to be. This is mostly related to the quality of our relationships. We are missing a soulmate. Someone, who is on the same wavelength. Lonely people feel isolated, even when they are surrounded by people. They are unable to connect with others. Lonely people often think negatively of themselves and doubt their own abilities.

Is loneliness always part of living abroad?

Many people living abroad told me, that loneliness was a part of their choice they made when choosing to live abroad. But it does not need to be that way. We should not underestimate loneliness, since it can lead to physical problems.

When feeling lonely, the amount of stress hormone cortisol grows. Cortisol worsens our ability to concentrate, has a negative effect on our cardiovascular system and weakens our immune system. It is therefore better to take precautionary measures to avoid loneliness or try to do something about it.

What to do when feeling lonely?

Each of us sometimes feels anxious or alone due to loneliness. If you feel lonely from time to time, doing something nice just for yourself can help. Talking to a close one, a walk in the nature, a hot bath or anything else, that makes you feel good, are good examples. Trying to find relief on social media is not a good idea, since these usually deepen the feeling of loneliness.

What if this is not enough?

In case your state is deeper, it may help to talk about your feelings with someone you trust, which may bring relief to some degree. You can also try to find a group of people with similar interests, preferably offline. It is easier to build high-quality relationships in an offline environment. But, if your feelings of loneliness endure, their cause will most likely be much deeper. Seeking professional help is not a weakness.

How can a psychological counselor support you?

You may sometimes feel that living abroad alone is difficult. You may be in a relationship, in which you feel satisfied, but you still sometimes feel lonely. You may not be able to tell your partner what you need right now, because no one ever taught you how to do that. This is a difficult topic to talk about with others. We may be scared others will criticize our relationship, disapprove of our decision to live abroad, or we might even fear our own feelings of failure.

The cause of our problems is usually miscommunication. Miscommunication occurs also among people from the same culture, but misunderstanding and incorrect interpretations can multiply in intercultural relationships. A counselor’s objective point of view sometime shows, that a small change in communication can bring partners closer together again and can fuel the relationship with new energy. It is never too late to change for the better.

What will you gain? 

A professional relationship with a psychological counselor is a safe space, in which you can find understanding and support to master a difficult life situation. Talking to a professional can bring instant relief. Long-term cooperation helps people create strategies to avoid similar situations in the future or handle them more effectively.

You are not alone.

In case of need, you can contact us and our online psychological counseling for expats or another professional.

Or, you can start by taking a look at our Facebook group Expats: Feel home abroad | DE | IT | FR, where we share our feelings and thoughts about living in foreign countries. Shared joy is double the joy and half the worry. You are most welcome.


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