Signs that you may be struggling to adjust

Expat Nest invited clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Sivia Gouvali, M.Sc,  to discuss some of the common symptoms expats may experience while adjusting to expat life…


Expatriation means a break with home: our patria (fatherland) and, for many of us, our mother tongue. The psychic readjustment required to meet our new lifestyle demands is often confusing. It requires significant effort to adapt to and incorporate new social, economic and cultural norms.

The following symptoms may appear during the adjustment phase:

  • Mood swings, which sometimes develop into depression.
  •  Compulsive eating/drinking and/or weight gain.
  • Personal disorientation: A sense of loss is characteristic of culture shock. Culture shock has many different effects, time spans, and degrees of severity. Many people are handicapped by its presence and do not recognize what is bothering them.
  •  Feelings of isolation: Some of us may find it impossible to accept the foreign culture and integrate.
  • Increasingly phobic (fearful) attitudes may exacerbate the tendency to withdraw.
  • Hostility towards host nationals: sometimes expatriates isolate themselves from the host country’s environment. We may withdraw into a “ghetto” and see return to our own culture as the only way out. (Yet “Rejectors” often face challenges  re-integrating back home.)


If you, or a loved one, are experiencing any of the above, consider consulting a relevant mental health professional. Active listening is the first line of support and can help address the difficulties involved in adjusting to a relocation.


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© Vivian Chiona


Feel free! We ask only that you include this information: Expat Nest is a professional online counselling service for expats. Expat Nest supports expats who are facing challenges and who want to feel happier and more relaxed in their international experience.

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