Homesickness

homesick-childHomesickness is a strong longing for home or a person associated with home, such as a parent or sibling.

What is Homesickness?

Homesickness can feel similar to grief, and a person experiencing homesickness is grieving the temporary—or sometimes permanent—loss of the comforts of home. Many people experience mild homesickness when they move, and this low-level homesickness might include brief pangs of longing for home and periodic feelings of nostalgia. However, homesickness can also be an overwhelming emotion that interferes with adjustment and normal functioning. People experiencing this kind of homesickness may be anxious, depressed, cry frequently, or have difficulty keeping track of daily routines.

What Causes Homesickness?

A sudden change in environment can cause homesickness in a wide variety of people. Because children’s identities and sense of security are intimately tied to family and home, however, they are especially prone to homesickness. A child might become homesick while away at camp or when spending the night at a friend’s house.

College students often experience homesickness when they go away to school, particularly if school is far from home or the culture on campus is dramatically different from family culture.

What Causes Homesickness?

The primary cause of homesickness is a sudden transition or separation from home, but some people are more prone to homesickness than others. Children with a history of anxiety and shy children may be especially prone to homesickness. College students who have never been away from home or who have trouble making friends are also more likely to develop homesickness.

Homesickness is not a mental illness, and does not require treatment. However, therapy can help people adjust to new environments. In some cases, homesickness may lead to or exacerbate certain mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Reference:

  1. Thurber, C. A., & Walton, E. A. (2007). Preventing and Treating Homesickness. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16(4), 843-858. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2007.05.003

Last Updated: 08-7-2015

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