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Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Old May 31st 2012, 1:57 am
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Default Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

In reading through this board and some other expat boards, I'm often struck by some of the sad stories and homesickness that arises by some expats who are just not having a good go of things. It's a rough life as probably anyone here knows.

But what has struck me on more than one occasion is how some of these people often mention "I've had a bit of a history of depression" when talking about their current situation. It seems to come up not always, but a bit more frequently than you would expect.

So it got me thinking--if you had a friend who had a "a bit of a history with depression" would you advise them to be an expat or not? I think some people might think moving might be the best solution for their depression, but it doesn't always seem to be the case.

Any thoughts?

(and no, I'm not depressed, just kind of curious as to how best to help respond to some of the posters who mention this).
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Old May 31st 2012, 2:42 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

I don't think there's a black and white yes/no answer to that. It would depend on that person's individual problems.

In general, I think the advice I would give is, "do what feels right for you at this time in your life". Even people who don't have a history of depression can immigrate and become depressed. Likewise, someone who has a history of depression might make this change in their life and turn it all around. I don't think you can predict one way or another.

I think it would be worth giving a try, if they feel it's right for them...if it turns out badly they can always go back or find a different path.

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Old May 31st 2012, 3:03 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

I don't think that there is an easy answer to this.

The people who post on message boards are not necessarily a very representative sample of humanity - almost by definition they all have something that they want to say, or questions that they want answered or things that they want to complain about - and we don't know how many people who might have had a history of depression are now doing just fine because I suspect that it isn't something that they would necessarily post about.

That having been said, I think that it is definitely the case that there are some people who always seem to be unhappy with their job or their spouse or where they live and who think that if only they could get a new spouse / job / place to live all of their troubles would be over and then - if and when they do actually get the new job, or the new partner or move to a new place - they discover that, somehow, all of their troubles and problems seem to have moved with them because, of course, the real problem was with them, not with their environment - and that is an observation from life, not just from internet message boards ...
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Old May 31st 2012, 3:30 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

I wouldn't say a person with depression could not make a go of it here BUT research, research, research would be my advice. It seems like many people (not just those with depression) come to the US with false expectations, everyone is going to have some home sickness in one form or another but I think it is possible to prepare yourself for some of it.

Last edited by Ash UK/US; May 31st 2012 at 4:47 am.
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Old May 31st 2012, 3:47 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

For USA in particular, there are relatively few who CAN become expats. Of those,some will be depressed and that could be their motivation, and it may or not be the cure. Equally there are some who emigrate through circumstances not of their choosing, and some of those may become depressed, and others thrive.

Not sure the two are related though.
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Old May 31st 2012, 4:44 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

speaking from personal expierience of deppression .if a person is deppressed its not a good idea to travel if they are on medication or recieving treatment for it ,as i was before coming here .i made a rash decision coming to the us without a back up plan or funds in the uk to help me incase of problems .i have learned a costly mistake now .
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Old May 31st 2012, 5:07 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

I don't know. The stress of moving could trigger depression in someone who had not previously suffered from it, but on the other hand if someone feels very stuck in a rut somewhere then moving might help them. Of course they would need to be sure of availability of medical help.
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Old May 31st 2012, 5:30 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Depression covers a broad spectrum of causes. For example, a woman that suffered post natal depression is probably unlikely to have depression triggered by a new environment on its own - another baby then maybe but that wouldn't be related to the environment necessarily.

Other people are diagnosed with depression but it's not really (GP sick notes like candy); others not diagnosed and probably ought to have been, not that it would have saved a close friend who'd had enough of life.
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Old May 31st 2012, 7:33 am
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
In reading through this board and some other expat boards, I'm often struck by some of the sad stories and homesickness that arises by some expats who are just not having a good go of things. It's a rough life as probably anyone here knows.

But what has struck me on more than one occasion is how some of these people often mention "I've had a bit of a history of depression" when talking about their current situation. It seems to come up not always, but a bit more frequently than you would expect.

So it got me thinking--if you had a friend who had a "a bit of a history with depression" would you advise them to be an expat or not? I think some people might think moving might be the best solution for their depression, but it doesn't always seem to be the case.

Any thoughts?

(and no, I'm not depressed, just kind of curious as to how best to help respond to some of the posters who mention this).
I think what needs to be addressed, is not the depression itself, but the the reasons for the depression It just might be possible that some are depressed because they want to move?? Just an idea
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Old May 31st 2012, 1:12 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

I'm not an expat (yet), and my experience may be limited due to my age and life experiences, but my opinion is that if you suffer from depression, that will not go away just because you move country. I believe people who suffer from depression would do so whether they live in their own country or live abroad, however when suffering abroad, it's easier to blame the depression on living in a different country, being away from friends/family and away from 'normality'.
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Old May 31st 2012, 1:15 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Interesting topic.

In the mid 1990s, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. A depressing place, especially after the former Soviet Union broke up. Already a grey place...grey sky, grey buildings, grey people. (I know, I know, sounds like Aberdeen...)

Those with a tendency toward depression did not endure the first winter. At that time, 50% of folks went back to the USA. Of the rest, at the end of the two years, we were actually given paperwork to see a psychologist for 10 sessions "in cases of depression or readjustment" - this was done only in the FSU countries upon our being sent home at the end of our term.

Adjustment to difficult, new environments is hard...and many people just aren't able to see different as 'possibly good.'

A lot has a difference as well. For example there is a lovely chap here from London who is lonely and not doing as well as another guy who is thriving here. The former is older (60s) and his wife decided to stay back in London. He's here for one year and..well...counting the days. The other, in his 30s, has his girlfriend here and they are seizing every moment to hike, travel, see anything they can jam in for this year. They don't have time to be homesick or lonely - they make friends wherever they go.

Any change of environment isn't for everyone, even if not an expat. I have an American friend who has history of depression. She keeps to herself and has very few friends to lean on. She wanted to move to Alaska. Friends and family intervened and she did not move up there...now she goes during the good months there and stays a month or so instead. Even she sees that a winter up there alone would only bring on serious depression.

So if my friends or family tend to get into depressions, I do not advise a change in environment as stressful as moving to a new culture. Visit in dribs and drabs then consider moving.

I've been an expat my whole adult life and only recently have spent 2 years here in the states (which was a shock in many ways.) Folks who move every 2 years for decades tend to do it out of experience, not out of thought. We don't quickly grasp the difficulties of someone doing this for the first time at age 40 or 50, or those who tend to be depressed in life and a new environment can trigger that.

Its all about mindset and not to discriminate against those with a history of depression...but if one is prone to such, I certainly wouldn't encourage it unless they had a ton of family support daily until things get routine.

Last edited by Bomjeito; May 31st 2012 at 1:17 pm.
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Old May 31st 2012, 3:27 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Well it certainly doesn't help.
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Old May 31st 2012, 3:53 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

It probably has quite a lot do with how you end up in the US. If you move to the US for someone else, for example a marriage to a US citizen or for your spouse's company transfer, you can end up feeling isolated and powerless because you came for them and not really for yourself. I see this a lot on these boards, the spouse who left their life in the UK and never really settled overseas. It seems like it must be a lot of work to uproot your whole family, and then try to make the whole family okay with the situation. An exciting life challenge for one person is an overwhelming burden to another.

However, this can hit someone who's never been depressed before just as hard as it can someone who has been depressed before. If you happen to know that you become depressed when faced with a lot of change, stress, and isolation, it's something you'll have to factor into your decision about whether to make the move.
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Old May 31st 2012, 3:55 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

Originally Posted by Rose tea View Post
However, this can hit someone who's never been depressed before just as hard as it can someone who has been depressed before. If you happen to know that you become depressed when faced with a lot of change, stress, and isolation, it's something you'll have to factor into your decision about whether to make the move.
That's what happened to me. I thought I would love the change.
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Old May 31st 2012, 4:01 pm
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Default Re: Should someone with a history of depression be an expat?

At least Ukraine has some pretty hot totty.
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