Moving to another country is unlikely to cure any mental health issues. It may, in fact, make them worse. You are experiencing big changes and probably have lost some of your usual support systems.
Blaise Dismer is a mental health professional specializing in anxiety and depressive disorders, and I asked him to write a few words on the subject. Anxiety and depression cause very real suffering and I hope any of you, wherever you are, reach out for help to Blaise or any resources you choose so you can feel better. His website is HERE.
And now.. from Blaise…
Change is unsettling. Adapting to a novel environment, language and culture arouse a certain amount of “normal anxiety”. Often, anxious people think,” If only I could get rid of all this anxiety!” but our minds and bodies were engineered to benefit from stress when conditions warrant it. For example, when we hear an unexpected noise or we approach the edge of a cliff, our natural anxiety alerts us of possible danger. Our adrenal glands and central nervous systems prepare us for “fight or flight” responses (incidentally, it’s now called “Fight/flight/freeze response”). Only when we are experiencing anxious symptoms frequently without any signs of danger, is it maladaptive. Yuck!
Depression can be seen from a similar view. We all get sad at times. Being away from family and old friends is reason enough for expats to experience homesickness or the occasional blues. However, when one experiences the majority of the following symptoms, it’s time to seek professional help: sleep disturbance, change in appetite, difficulty concentrating, low energy, low libido, feeling hopeless or helpless, poor self-esteem, slow mental/physical responses, thoughts of death and dying. Should one have thoughts about harming oneself or another, a trip to the hospital emergency department is imperative.
Being a newbie in Panama, you may not yet know the mental health resources available. A good place to start is your expat community; another is your GP. Check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America at http://www.adaa.org. Another great source of help is http://www.paniccure.com. It’s really, really important to know that one can get demonstrably better, perhaps completely past, worrisome anxiety and depression. Don’t allow hopelessness to cloud your vision. Try instead, walking, socializing (even though it may be THE last thing you feel like doing) and talk to a friend or neighbor about what’s going on.
Keep keeping on,