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Doctors warn of increasing depression among expatriates

Doctors have called for better access to counselling for expatriates who are depressed as they are often isolated and have no family support. Doctors also warn that many cases remain untreated.

Image Credit:Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Gulf News
Doctors have warned that expatriates are often isolated and without family support, factors that could lead to depression. This picture is for illustrative purposes only.
Gulf News

Dubai: Doctors have called for better access to counselling for expatriates who are depressed as they are often isolated and have no family support. Doctors also warn that many cases remain untreated.

Expatriates have no close friends because their stay here is transitory, say the doctors, noting that the very early warning signs of depression are lack of energy, sleeplessness, isolation, complaints of headaches and pains.

"Even though effective medical treatment can be provided by a psychiatrist, very often patients do not find their way to a specialist clinic," said Dr Michael Grundmann, senior neurological consultant at the German Centre for Neurology and Psychiatry.

According to the Depression Alliance, a leading British charity for people with depression, the top 10 sources of stress at work are lack of job fulfilment, feeling that your contribution is not valued, poor distribution of work and resulting overload, not knowing what is expected of you, and lack of autonomy and feeling of trust.

Dr Carolyn Roseler of the Emirates Clinic, said recently the Rashid Hospital has taken steps to liaise with clinics and called for regular mental health awareness weeks, as in Australia, to help stop people hiding their depression, thinking that it is a "weakness" of sorts.

She said depression is a major global problem as people lead stressful lives, not giving themselves enough rest time and not spending enough time with their families. There should be more avenues to people with depression where they can turn to for help.

Grundmann said the workplace is not the only cause of depression, but it is an important factor for most people. "By raising awareness at the workplace and by improving work conditions, we can help to reduce the instances of depression, helping those who are affected to recover more quickly and also help the employers and the economy by reducing sick leave dramatically."

He said depression is most common between 20 to 35 years, "during the prime earnings years, as people tend to heap the most pressure on themselves to make money and achieve success".

Grundmann said the second high-risk age group is 60 to 65, "when adults wind down their working life& and a sense of worthlessness [sets in] and unusual amounts of free time that has to be organised".

Factoids: Treatment could help

80 per cent of people suffering from depression can be helped with appropriate treatment. Depression is brought about through interaction of external and internal stresses, genetic factors and biological changes in the brain.

People suffering from depression often complain of physical problems such as headaches and stomach pains, rather than of a low mood.

"Talking treatment" or cognitive behavioural therapy, is as important as anti-depressant medication. The therapy is based on the fact that the way we feel is partly dependent on the way we think about ourselves and what is happening to us.

Change your lifestyle. Exercise more, avoid alcohol, try relaxation techniques like meditation.


Do you know anyone who has suffered due to depression? Did they seek professional help? How do you sustain a positive outlook?


Your comments


My advice to everyone: try to be busy and try to be happy, thinking positively and try to learn that life is not easy, just take as it is then find better way to pass everyday. we don't have to worry about yesterday because it was past, we don't have to worry about tomorrow because still not coming yet, all what we can do is try to do the best TODAY, less complain and be thankful for everything that you having now. When you have half piece of bread, do not complain it's too small compare full piece of bread, think about how lucky you are and many people only have quarter piece of bread. Be grateful, be positive. May the Almighty help everyone who suffer from depression.
Cindy
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 18:20

Interesting article
A Reader
New York,USA
Posted: July 18, 2009, 16:06

The expatriate life in Gulf countries is an agony of mixed feelings. This is mainly due to the work atmosphere and family issues back home. Even family too here suffer badly due to various reasons besides work related issues, children?s education etc, make their life uncomfortable and lead to depression. At most occasions, there is very few people approach for professional guidance to overcome the stress. Perhaps the overall outlook can be changed to make ourselves comfortable at home and work. Firstly, work pressure or any issues related to job must leave at the work place itself, they should not be taken home where one expect relieve from a hectic day?s activities either from colleagues or other family members. However, some finds difficult to manage this situation and open up dialogue on official issues or keep the laptop open to carry on with the pending work. Apart from family issues, one of the other reasons for the so-called stress is lack of proper planning in personal side. Other negative aspects include insufficient rest time, job security concerns, inappropriate remuneration package, the list is never ending. I think all this can overcome to some extend if companies and establishments have a proper counseling wing to take care of employee welfare. It is also equally beneficial to employer point of view. People should find time to unwind for simple psychological reasons and also mix with community groups, so that surely they be able to accommodate their health concerns of this nature to a great extend.
Ramachandran Nair
Ruwi,Oman
Posted: July 18, 2009, 15:17

I have suffered from depression badly in the past and fought it through reading self-help books and studying personally.
Rachel-Beth Carrington
Portsmouth,UK
Posted: July 18, 2009, 14:31

I myself had suffered depression. Due to transitory and environmental shift as I was assigned to work in a different culture and different set of people. Especially if you are in a working environment which has high levels of stress and task are given to you in a daily basis. Not just work but also in a sudden shift of lifestyle and living conditions. Such as for example no decent accommodation was given to an expatriate. Problems on commuting and urban problems such as traffic lack of parking in proximity to your work and residence it adds up to your daily stresses. But somehow I just learned to accept things as they are and learned how to cope with it. Rather than whine but to divulge ourselves to different activities so as not to sink into depression.
Jeffrey G. de Leon
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 13:25

I am an American Board Certified Adult and Child Psychiatrist. I have come across a lot of cases of depression and anxiety in Dubai. There are treatments available, including talk therapy and medications. The earlier depression is diagnosed and treated the better the prognosis. A lot of people will present will physical complaints like stomachaches and headaches to the family doctors, which in reality may be depression and anxiety manifesting itself.
Shujaat A. Nathani, MD
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 13:08

I am working as a sales executive, and I am feeling that my contribution is not valued in my work. And I tried to do some exercise to reduced my depression at my work, but I am still depressed..Any suggestion?? Need help
Vijay
Sharjah,U.A.E
Posted: July 18, 2009, 12:32

major cause is too long work hours, 10+ work hours and 6 days work makes majority of the people in stress. Some times office politics with bad bosses etc.
Hari
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 12:31

I agree that expatriates suffer from depression caused mainly due to loneliness and stress. Most men who are staying away from their family suffer from depression. At times when the men bring their families, the woman who is not going to work and is a homemaker suffers from depression. It is in only extreme cases that treatment is sought. Depression is usually suffered in silence as at most times the person having this problem doesn?t realise it. Too much stress and lack of friends and family to talk to makes a person lonely and sad. This ultimately leads to physical weakness, lack of concentration and various other problems. Only after various test reports show normal that the reason for such symptoms is pinned down to depression. Most people suffer from depression at least once at some stage of their life. As the extent to which a person suffers in depression varies, most cases just pass and the person recovers due to change in circumstances. To avoid depression, first a person must accept that he is prone to depression and work out the reasons for the same. Making more friends, keeping in touch with friends and relatives, taking small vacations, visiting family, exercising, keeping one self busy are some of the ways to ward off depression. Family support though, I feel is the best possible way to tackle this problem.
Naina Nair
Sharjah,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 11:42

I know a lot of people who are suffering from depression but I am very sorry to say that they cannot afford medical treatment. I think that around fifty percent expatriates are suffering from depression.
Hussain
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 11:32

I have under gone a serious problem of depression. I took yoga and found time to spend with my colleagues and close friends which helped a lot.
Bobby
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 10:19

The main reason for stress and depression is long hours ? 12 hours duty. I request to authorities to abide companies only 8 hours daily works should be taken from the staff to reduce tension.
Javed Iqbal Abdul Qayoum
Dubai,U.A.E
Posted: July 18, 2009, 08:58

Thanks for making us aware every few days through the news what is happening. We appreciate if someone think about how to reduce this type of cause. Then it will be better for everyone in difficult time.
Leena Mehta
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 08:55

I am working in a construction company and suffering from various tensions leading to a kind of depression. My tension starts from insecurity of employment and passes through the financial loads leaving me stressed and panic. Most of the residents are victims of borrowed money. Some people even commit financial crimes. If we ask them, what happen, they reply simply, loans and cards. Reducing the depressing from a community is a team work and it depends on the far visions including well being of mankind belonging to any corner of the globe. We (expatriates) all know that we are the temporary part of this society but we would have long lasting depressive affects while we may be back home. I suggest, to combat depression, we need to simplify our lifestyles. Department of labour must consider the capacity of a labour undertaking tasks in the sun. I?m giving my 56% of the time to my job with fair productivity. Indeed I can give best results by consuming 35 - 40% of my day time.
Khalil Akbar
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 08:48

Absolutely right thing. I know from my friends almost 90% are depressed. They are staying without their family. According to the living cost they cant stay here with their family.
Shine
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 08:43

I've been here for 8 years now and since then never went back home, I never had depression or any kind alike. You know why? Because I believe lifestyle has something to do with it, my advice to everyone, keep a simple healthy lifestyle plus a positive outlook in everything. People became depress due to unfulfilled dreams, don?t aim very high...stay focus, stop competing
Jhel Villaruel
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 08:23

The ones suffering from depressions have lost hopes of setting up their future plans. Unexpected expenses still on the rise, majority of them away from their loved ones - finds it hard to share their feelings with any make them to such a state
Sanish Cherian
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 05:44

I got depressed two years ago and I am still so until now. Factors contributing to my condition are: Hot and Muggy weather, traffic jams, increasing cost of living.
Joypo
Dubai,UAE
Posted: July 18, 2009, 04:16

Am suffering from severe depression .Headache and permanent ringing in the ears .What should I do?
S. Phillips
Newquay,UK
Posted: July 18, 2009, 01:15

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