Image of depressed woman in bed

Depression

It is estimated that on any given day, 5% of the adult population suffer from depression and as such, it is one of the most widespread psychological illnesses.

As an expat, you may be more prone to depression which for expats even has its own term: expat blues or expat depression. Whilst the first is a feeling of profound sadness, the latter is a regular depression.

 

Being outside of your comfort zone and as such, having to start everything all over, is hard and lonely work; and once the initial excitement wears off, it’s not unusual to fall into depression. In fact, research shows that more than 50% of all expats will experience depression – and with the recent covid-crisis and the Ukraine war, this number is likely to have risen.

What is depression?

Suffering from depression is different to going through a crisis like losing your job, divorcing, suffering from bereavement, or having had an accident. These are part of life’s adversity and crises; and once the initial shock has subsided, most will be able to carry on with their life.

With depression, it can be much different. Depression can be all consuming in the sense that you may lose interest in everything and find even mundane everyday tasks like showering and eating difficult to overcome. You are likely to feel despondent. 

You may feel shame and refrain from reaching out for support from friends, family and work place. You may try to put on a happy face to conceal your struggles.

Depression is a most unpleasant illness which lowers the quality of life significantly for both the sufferer and their closest ones. Depression comes in varying degrees: from sadness to deep despair. 

If you are suffering from depression, you feel low, sad, heavy, lethargic, and lack your usual energy. You will also experience a negative thought pattern, find it difficult to feel any joy and have a hard time concentrating and remembering things. You might find it difficult to maintain relationships, have a greater need to retreat into yourself and you might even begin to isolate yourself. In other words, it’s difficult, not to say impossible, to pull yourself together. Everyday tasks like going to work, studying, showering, eating, and maintaining a family life can seem strenuous and unmanageable.

Some sufferers feel a profound sense of being lost or feeling numb. Often, sufferers aren’t able to pinpoint any specific reasons for their suffering which makes it difficult to understand, not to mention endure. There is no snapping out of it, pulling yourself together, or thinking positively.

With its debilitating ability to make sufferers view life as well as themselves through a distorted lens, it can affect life both socially and professionally as well as bring one to suicidal thoughts. With depression, there’s an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Therefore, seeking help is vital!

Symptoms of depression

Depression can manifest itself both physically and psychologically. It’s the extend of the symptoms which determine if depression is present as well as the depth of this. Examples of symptoms are:

  • You feel low, sad, and tired.

  • Everything feels hopeless and meaningless.

  • You lack joy and your usual gist and energy for life.

  • You can’t recognise yourself.

  • You feel insignificant and inadequate.

  • You have lots of negative thoughts.

  • Your thoughts might be distorted.

  • You have an inner restlessness.

  • You move and do things in a slow manner.

  • You crave isolation and find it immensely draining to be around others.

  • You find it difficult to concentrate.

  • You blame yourself for everything, big and small.

  • Your sleep patterns are interrupted: insomnia, waking up in the early hours of the day or sleeping too much.

  • Your appetite is affected: increased or decreased.

  • You might feel anxious.

  • You might experience thoughts and behaviours of suicidal character.

How can you deal with depression?

Many sufferers of depression don’t reach out for help. But an untreated depression isn’t harmless, so if you are experiencing depression, please seek help. Research shows that the brain, especially the memory, can be permanently affected from depression. You might also be more susceptible to stress and anxiety if your depression goes untreated.

Psychotherapy plays a big role in the treatment of depression as does medicine, depending on the degree of the depression. Medicine only works for as long as you are taking it; whereas with therapy, you will gain a greater awareness of yourself, enabling you to not only live life in a more meaningful way, but also giving you sufficient tools to navigate and deal with your life’s circumstances.

Contact me today to hear how I can help you.