Recognising symptoms of depression while living abroad

Why Young Americans Are Lonely - Scientific American

People can feel lonely even in situations, when they are surrounded by others (including their family). The feeling, that someone does not really know or understand us, can be very burdening. It can burden us to such a degree, that it can become a risk for our physical and emotional health. There is a higher likelihood of becoming depressed, anxious or having problems with sleep. Loneliness can also lead to physical issues like cerebrovascular accident, heart attack, obesity, acute or chronic pain.

Loneliness is becoming a spreading phenomenon, in spite of flourishing communication technologies. This can be for a variety of reasons: tiredness after an exhausting day (when it feels like we have no energy for going out), chronic lack of time, age, loss of a partner but also the fear of rejection, or extreme introversion.

Are there other reasons, that could intensify loneliness?

A team of scientists from Harvard and Stanford University focused on the different approaches of handling emotions among people who feel lonely and those who do not feel that way. They discovered a possible link between loneliness and unhealthy dealing with one‘s emotions. The decisive factor was one‘s own way of processing negative emotions.

Critical factors are:

  • Accusing oneself or others
  • Catastrophic thinking
  • Frequent rumination
  • Supressing of negative emotions
  • The tendency to refuse emotional help from others and deliberate isolation

It is important to emphasize, that lonely people are not responsible for their situation. To blame people for their loneliness or to assume, that loneliness is their own fault, would be an incorrect simplification. None of us chose, how we will process and deal with our emotions: it is rather a connection of many factors like genetics, cultural upbringing, personality, experience etc.

How to break free?

The key element for loneliness is self-reflection. Those, who often feel lonely, should focus their attention on their behavior in difficult situations, e.g. after an argument with their close ones or after a failed project. Those, who find out, that they suppress anger and disappointment or ruminate frequently, instead of focusing on finding a solution, should take notice of this behavior and realize, that there are healthier ways of solving problems. One very effective way is to take a step back from the problem and share it with someone.

Where to share, if we live abroad?

If you live abroad, you can sometimes feel isolated, misunderstood or lonely. This is normal, because you are straddled between two cultures and you no longer completely belong to either. In our Facebook group Expats: Feel home abroad | DE | IT | FR, we offer space for sharing and provide information about life and mental health abroad and integration in a foreign country. The group is a space, where you can turn for advice or share your experience and feelings about life abroad with others, who are in the same situation as you. Simply said, you do not need to tackle your life abroad alone.

What if sharing is not enough?

If you feel, that sharing in a group helps you only short-term, or you do not like sharing information about yourself in a group, you can contact us and our counseling center directly at ( Life abroad can be challenging to our mental health. We will find out, what is the root of your challenges and we will find a solution together, so that you can feel at home, even if you live abroad.

Who are we and how can we support you?

We specialize on psychology and counseling of expats. With our online psychological counseling for expats, we can support you in managing difficult life situations in your personal and professional life.

Mila Della Briotta & Michala Škrábová

*We write blog articles about the world of psychology:

*We will support you in individual counseling:

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