Taking the leap and studying abroad can be a fulfilling adventure. But, it also implies a degree of social isolation, facing challenging situations and moving way out of your comfort zone. Added to the pressure any degree course places on a person, it’s not unusual for foreign students to become withdrawn, stressed out or depressed.
When a person is starting to feel overwhelmed, talk therapy is certainly an option to consider, as one of the more helpful options according to Betterhelp; the world’s largest platform for speaking with a therapist online.
Mental and emotional strain can manifest itself in various ways, including increased irritability, frequent anxiety, low energy or persistent sadness. Of course, everybody experiences these feelings during the normal course of life, too.
It can be difficult to decide where the dividing line lies between healthy, natural emotions and a state of mind that may be the beginning of an actual mental issue. In the latter case, unfortunately, leaving treatment too late will often result in things getting worse.
As many as half of people who can benefit greatly from some sort of therapy end up avoiding it for various reasons; even those that have a hard time finding a therapst, here are a few tips on finding one. It’s important to remember that, however, as much as we humans like to sort concepts into convenient categories, minds and personalities are too unique to always allow pigeonholing of mental states into classes such as “depression” or “moodiness”.
Different types of psychic distress manifest themselves differently depending on the person or merge into one another in unpredictable ways. Amateur diagnoses are therefore very unreliable. Although, there are a few signs that strongly indicate that professional help may be a good idea.
Frequent Headaches, Indigestion or Infections
Someone suffering from excess stress or depression will often deny these feelings, but our bodies don’t lie. Although repeated health problems can have a number of explanations, a compromised immune system, pains that seemingly come out of nowhere or stomach upsets are some of the ways in which negative emotions make themselves known physically.
Increased Alcohol or Substance Use
Again, emotions are slippery and unseeable things, but a change in behavior is easy to discern. Although the danger of addiction certainly increases when someone is under pressure, some other ways behavior can change include eating much more or less than usual, insomnia or not wanting to get out of bed.
“When you find yourself spending more than you can afford, drinking or using drugs often, making knee-jerk relationship choices, or having overblown reactions to others, it could be a sign of deeper problems,” said Ryan Howes, PhD.
If someone you know has expressed concern about changes such as these – changes, not long-standing habits – it is probably time to reflect on how you’re feeling. Is it possible that you’re trying to suppress some unpleasant state of mind?
Caring too Much, or too Little
One way of telling that all is not as it should be in our minds is when the way we relate to our work, social relationships and future plans change. If a previously enjoyable activity has lost its luster, you find it difficult to concentrate on your work, or it’s becoming impossible to think of ways to have fun, it is possible that you are suffering from stress or depression.
“This may be a sign of someone who is stuck in a rut,” says Dr. Marisa Alter, PsyD, “or it could be a sign of a deeper depression.”
Conversely, unusually intense emotions are also a warning sign. Everybody’s mood varies from time to time. But, if feelings such as anger or fear are showing up very strongly or for no real reason, therapy can help to resolve underlying issues you may not even be aware of; even if they are hard to talk about subjects like politics. Always expecting the worst to happen, or constantly disparaging yourself in your own mind, are closely related symptoms, as are avoiding responsibility or feeling the need to take on burdens that have nothing to do with you.
Feeling Sad, Helpless or Anxious for Longer than Two Weeks
One of the differences between normal and abnormal emotions is the length of time they persist. If you’ve suffered a trauma, such as a romantic breakup or physical accident, there’s nothing with giving yourself time. Allow yourself the time to recuperate and regain your balance.
However, be cautious if negative feelings keep returning for longer than could reasonably be expected. You find yourself continually dwelling on some unpleasant event. You may be stuck mentally and need a little help to move on.
“If these feelings escalate to the point that you question whether life is worth living or you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out for help right away,” said David Sack, MD.
Most campuses have some form of student assistance program, including mental health services. These will often be partly staffed by graduate psychology and social work students. Although, they may not be able to offer quite the same degree of competence a fully qualified therapist can provide. They will at least be able to recognize when a problem lies beyond their ability.
In any case, talking to someone sympathetic nearly always helps in resolving troubling feelings. Just try to keep in mind that guarantee of confidentiality is in place. Simply talking to friends is also a good idea, but this level of privacy is absent. Social acquaintances will often prefer to tell you what you want to hear, instead of what you need to.