Recognising depression: how to cope with change as an expatriate woman Transitioning to a new life living abroad can be difficult. Women may feel lonely being away from family and friends, and mothers may feel purposeless as maids and nannies take over what were once their primary duties.
Language and cultural barriers can be difficult to deal with, and it is normal to miss familiarities such as a favourite food, TV show, or even commercials you can understand. All of these issues, coupled sometimes with the added difficulty of learning a new language, can lead to frustration and feelings of depression.
To help ease the burden, there are some things a woman can do. A routine helps, perhaps exercise or limit the maids ‘duties’. Gaining an understanding of the culture in Asia can lessen the culture shock as well. On a nice day, maybe take a bike tour of the city, or perhaps take language lessons to help break down the language barrier.
Whatever you do, get to know the city and it will begin to feel more like home.
Wives and mothers are not the only family members who can be affected by beginning a new life abroad. Expat children can suffer from depression as well. An expat lifestyle often means moving frequently, and this may lead to identity issues in children. Kids may question what is “home”, or have to deal with friends constantly leaving, or get anxiety about always being new and not being able to settle down.
Conversely, when children return to their “home country” for university, it can lead to reverse culture
shock. Students often deal with similar feelings all over again, of loneliness, and unfamiliarity after being abroad for so long. Sudden independence can be daunting to students when going off to university, and they may have added feelings of stress related to a lack of support system since their parents are abroad.
Any of these issues, or simply the reality of the expat lifestyle being different than the expectations of it, can lead to feeling down. Particularly if certain short comings were not considered prior to moving. It is important to have the knowledge to distinguish sadness from the medical illness, depression. Feelings of sadness are a basic human response to moving away. However, prolonged feelings of sadness that are not related to a specific event and which affect a daily routine may be depression, and that is when seeing a doctor should be considered.
It when children then return to their”home simply the reality of the expat than the expectations of it, can
Summers and holidays, specifically, may be more difficult. Returning after spending a long time at “home”with close friends and family can be very hard. Studies show that levels of depression are higher after arrival than beforehand whilst anticipating the move.
It helps to pinpoint the problem. Think about what exactly you are missing. If there was a hobby you used to love, why not continue it?
Fortunately, there is a fairly large expat community in Asia, which means that there is likely already a club for your favourite hobby. If not. why not start one? Taking up activities you are passionate about such as charity work. or photography, or sports, can help immensely in overcoming the feelings of sadness or not belonging.
Sometimes differences between a person’s culture of origin and the culture they have arrived in here in Asia can impact happiness. It can sometimes be difficult to summon up the energy or courage to attend social events and meet new people, and it may almost feel like high school all over again. But, meeting new people who are experiencing the same issues allows you to support each other and, along with developing a routine, can be the best way to combat feelings of sadness or depression and make Asia feel like home.