Child, teenager or adult, we are all prone to feeling homesick at times …
According to an article in the journal Pediatrics, Thurber (2007) defined homesickness as distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, severe homesickness can be classified as an adjustment disorder, and is accompanied by symptoms of anxiety and depression.
We are living in a fast moving world and many of us have to study, work or live away from our familiar environment. Research shows that children and teenagers going to boarding school, camps or hospital can experience homesickness.
Other members of the population such as immigrants, international students and refugees, can also be affected by feeling homesick.
As mentioned by Josh Klapow, feeling homesick “stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security’’.
Homesickness can also be associated with social problems, behavioural issues, symptoms of depression and anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
Emotional Signs of Homesickness
The person who is feeling homesick may struggle with:
- Feelings of loss;
- Lack of motivation;
- Feeling isolated;
- Loneliness; and
- Frequent thoughts of home.
Homesickness may also affect the individual on a physical level, with signs including:
- Nausea and stomach aches;
- Sleep disturbance;
- Change in appetite;
- Heart palpitations.
Behaviourally, the individual may experience symptoms such as withdrawal and irritability.
(Some of these signs are also symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.)
If you are away from your homeland or finding it difficult to adapt to a life far from family or parents, I welcome you to make an appointment with me. I have lived and worked in foreign countries for years, and understand what it is like to struggling with feeling homesick!
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who works with all ages, although children and teenagers are her main area of interest. She has lived and worked in several countries so has firsthand experience of what it is like to feel homesick. Meggy is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
Please call Vision Psychology on 1800 877 924 to make an appointment with Meggy Delaunay, or book online now!
- Thurber, C.A., Walton, E. and the Council on School Health (2007). Preventing and treating homesickness, Pediatrics, Vol 119, 192-201