The term “homesickness” refers to the functional impairment or the distress, which is precipitated by an anticipated or actual separation from what one is familiar with. Occasionally, homesickness can be severe, and hence, it is viewed in the context of the adjustment disorders by the American Psychiatric Association mode of classification. Specifically, homesickness is characterized by depressed mood and anxiety. One can easily distinguish homesickness from related anxiety disorders due to the unique presentation of recurring thoughts focused on home, namely loved ones, house, homeland, pets, home cooking, and a wish to return home. Homesickness can affect negatively one’s cognition, behavior, emotions, and physical condition to an extent of warranting clinical attention (Thurber and Walton 3). The purpose of writing this paper is to discuss the topic of homesickness as it has had adverse effects on me while at school.
All people who for some reason happen to be far from home experience homesickness, since relocation and tuning to a new place of residence can be stressful, especially where coping strategies and resources may be lacking. This is more common among the youngsters as compared to people who are advanced in age (Shahmohammadi and Irannejad 72). The research that was conducted involving children and adolescents who lived away from home showed that homesickness is associated with depression, anxiety and loneliness. It also revealed that homesickness that is intense can be considered problematic when it worsens existing anxiety and mood disorders, or when it precipitates mental or physical conditions such as appetite change, insomnia (lack of sleep), gastrointestinal upsets, diabetes and even compromising the immune system. It has also been observed that in severe cases homesickness has resulted in dropping out of school: students experiencing homesick are three times more prone to withdraw from schooling as compared to those who have no homesick. The most common effects of homesickness are low concentration, memory lapse, social isolation, low self-esteem and neurotic behavior (Thurber and Walton 2).
There are numerous factors that could be considered as exacerbating homesickness. These factors are grouped into four groupings, namely experience, attitude, personality and family factors. One of such factors is concerned with the acculturation stress, which is associated with changes in beliefs, values, and behaviors when one interacts with people of a different culture. The international students do experience stress associated with language where self-expression or communication in general is impaired. Change in the environment such as climatic change or a shift in rural versus urban setting can also be a cause of homesickness. Other factors include changes in political differences or governance structure, shifts in reputation and responsibilities, being in the company of unfamiliar peers, and discriminations such as racism.