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Ways to Deal with ex-pat Depression

Even the most enthusiastic of ex-pats have second thoughts sometimes. It is normal to feel out of place in a foreign country from time to time, even though you fervently wanted to move there. It is also not uncommon to feel utterly alone, even while constantly surrounded by other people. The bigger the change and the longer the distance from home, the higher the possibility of ex-pat depression.


One would think that after a long time of deep longing for the well-known, reasons to go back will outweigh the reasons to stay abroad. But ex-pat depression is a state of mind, and it can be defeated. One needs to remember one simple truth. The obstacles that make a person’s life more challenging are the same ones that make them more experienced, wiser, empathic, and in touch with themselves.

To cope with the change, embrace it!


People who make the step and leave their homeland do it for strong reasons. It may be that they seek better education or job opportunities, or wish to join their partner. Whatever the cause for relocation, there was a powerful need behind that decision. It should not be overlooked when rainy days arrive.

Be aware that difficulties are bound to occur wherever you live – the only difference is the presence (or absence) of your support network. Embrace the changes and accept the obstacles as a part of life because our thoughts and emotions affect our health and wellbeing in general. As soon as you notice the first signs of feeling overwhelmed, melancholic, or sad, don’t back down but wave for help.

Connect with others and exercise

Two friends sharing a meal

If you’re living in a culture too different from your own, you are likely experiencing information overload as well. Too much information, along with your regular daily duties, can lead to an unbearable routine. A state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, or burnout, is imminent unless you find a personal pressure release valve. Thus, take time for yourself. Slow down, remember what makes you happy, and then do it without excuses.

If you’re among a host of ex-pats in Dubai or the Emirates, consider joining group yoga classes as it is a double win activity. It synchronizes your conscious with the subconscious and brings back harmony into your life, including a few new friends. If you feel like you’re under great mental, physical, and emotional pressure, then don’t underestimate the healing power of this ancient practice.

Hobbies and sports are a great way to bring your happiness out to the surface as they correspond to your inner senses of security, pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction. They are excellent conductors of positive feelings, allowing you to release the weight of everyday struggle far away from home. Not to mention that hobbies and sports also provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded people. Getting a taste of familiarity in a foreign country is always more than welcome.

Mind your mental and physical health


Get enough quality rest. Lack of a good night’s sleep is a trigger for a plethora of conditions, including ex-pat depression. However, if you already experience insomnia, practice mindfulness meditation, or massages to treat it. Furthermore, if you are a sensitive person, you are more likely to experience a stronger culture shock. Even if the change is for the better, you can get everything you own to the other continent and still feel like you lack something vital. The reason may lie in your self-confidence or your survival instinct.

Moreover, the change and the challenges of daily life on the foreign ground can awaken some pre-existing mental health issues and further complicate your stay. If you are struggling but still determined to endure, the solution would be to seek professional help. An experienced therapist will relieve you of the burden and save you from the clutches of ex-pat depression and worse.

Don’t make social media your crutch!


Use social media for what they should be used – to communicate with people you cannot see in person as often as you would like to. You can share your photos and videos, but also talk to them in the moments when loneliness grips you the strongest. Do not wait to notice the first symptoms of anxiety, but engage in brief, yet regular conversations with family members and friends. If time-zones make your life complicated, set up a schedule with your loved ones, and always make time for a short call, at least.

Also, browsing your social media passively will not make you feel better – on the contrary. It will only make you feel like you are constantly missing something important. But hey, important things happen all around you, too. Do not make social media your crutch and go out and engage in interesting activities instead. Search for local events online and then visit happenings of all kinds in your vicinity. Learning about and experiencing the culture in real life is a lot better than swiping anyway.

A few extra tips

If you forgot to do it before you left, check if there are groups of ex-pats from your country in the city you are living in now. Other people’s experiences will help you overcome your own concerns, especially because they have gone through the same ordeal. Of all people, they will most likely be the ones able to advise you on how to overcome ex-pat depression. Perhaps even before you develop it fully.

Additionally, you can reach out to local support groups. In case you have moved to a large city, which is a hub for ex-pats, you are likely to find a few groups dealing with people struggling to adjust.

If, however, nothing you do returns the expected result and you realize that your relocation is simply a bad choice, consider going back home. There is nothing wrong about admitting that ex-pat life is not for you. We all have our place under the sun – yours simply may not be abroad.

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