Living abroad can be very rewarding and exciting for an expatriate and his or her family members. However, many expatriates often face culture shock, homesickness and social isolation. There is often a lack of support for expats, and it can be more challenging to cope with living in a new country and culture. Many expatriates and their family members can be faced with mental illness – including stress, depression, anxiety and substance abuse, More so in the present unstable political situation.

Signs & Symptoms
It’s important to keep in mind that experiencing feelings of anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an anxiety disorder. Moving to a new country can cause a huge stress and it is normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes.

These symptoms include:

  • Physical changes:
    Decreased appetite, insomnia, trembling, heart palpitations or a racing heart – especially in specific circumstances, dizziness, dry mouth, feeling like you need to escape, nausea, abdominal pain or discomfort, muscle tension or unexplainable body aches and pains.
  • Mental or cognitive changes:
    Being hypersensitive to criticism, feeling like everyone is watching or judging you – even if you’re in an objectively “benign” situation, or feeling as though you’re under attack – even if there’s no apparent danger or stressor.
  • Behavioural changes:
    – Avoiding certain situations.
    For example, you might decide not to try to speak Spanish with the supermarket clerk at all for fear of looking “odd” or being judged.
  • Ritualistic behaviours or obsessive thought patterns, which can indicate the presence of OCD.
  • Extreme anxiety in social situations, which can indicate social phobia.
  • Avoiding going out in public altogether, which can be a sign of agoraphobia.

How to deal with the “Expats blues” ?

  • • Do Everything in Moderation
  • • Learn the language of the country they are moving to, although difficult, makes life easier for expats.
  • • Bare in mind there’s still considerable stigma attached to admitting to this kind of problems.
  • • Do not Blame yourself for Feeling Blue, it Takes a Strong Person to Admit to Weakness, accepting the problem is part of the solution
  • • Last but not least, don’t be afraid to reach out.

At Gran Alacant family doctors we have a mental health unit with multilingual and multicultural professionals at your service. For more information visit our website