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Depression as an Au Pair - where do I get help?

by Julia on Sep 12, 2019
Depression as an Au Pair - where do I get help?
We all know these moments where you just can’t get yourself out of bed. It’s raining outside, you have to go to work or to school and just don’t feel like doing anything. From time to time the feeling of being depressed is inevitable in life. Everyone feels sad or is in a bad mood sometimes. But for some of us this feeling doesn’t stop. Activities that they have enjoyed before now seem boring, every smile feels fake and all in all their attitude turns indifferent in many aspects. 
 
It’s very important to stress that the feeling of depression may not be confused with the major depressive disorder (MDD) which is a clinical diagnosis. When a funny film can cheer you up after a lousy day at work, it can’t when you suffer from this disorder. Even though the causes of MDD are partly rooted in genetics, there are some environmental factors which can increase your risk of getting a mild to severe depression or a depressive phase. The reasons can be found in the family history or in certain medication, but also in big life changes - such as moving to another country to become an Au Pair.

We know that being an Au Pair is something what most people call one of the best adventures in their lives. Nonetheless it brings a lot of stress, the need to adapt and an entire lifestyle change. It might seem ambivalent but being excited about becoming an Au Pair and suffer from major depression can happen at the same time. 
 
In many countries, depression is very widespread and affects a lot of people. However it’s still something of a taboo to speak about it openly. This is why we want to raise awareness and support those who do their best in their everyday life - and still can’t succeed in finding their inner balance. In this article we will talk about the symptoms of major depression disorder and how you can find a way out it if you suffer from this. We will also dig into the treatment and will provide you with some practical tips on how to get help. The most important thing: you’re not alone! Many people and also Au Pairs know what you’re feeling. And by the way: Host Mums and Dads are not excluded out of the equation. 
 

Symptoms of depression

Depression has many faces. But what all people who suffer from MDD have in common is a low mood and often very low self-esteem. In many cases the depression grows inside until those affected can’t hide it anymore and isolate themselves more and more. In fact the loss of interest in normal life and previously enjoyable activity is a symptom that not only people concerned but also their significant others will notice soon.

As an Au Pair, away from all of your friends and your family, the change will not be too obvious because no one can compare your previous behaviour to the current one. Though, you might lose contact to your peeps at home and might feel lost in general. Especially if you don’t click with your Host Family and don’t find new friends in language courses or in the Au Pair community, you might feel even more lonely. 
 
But it’s not only your inside that gets hurt: negative feelings which are present throughout the day can negatively affect your sleeping habit, result in appetite loss and have an impact on your general health. Moreover, you won’t be able to hide your symptoms at a certain point since you’re not only working for a family, you are living with them. The attempt to hide your symptoms will make the situation even worse. Your Host Family might have problems to understand what’s going on and will even cause more pressure - the vicious circle begins. 
 

How can I get help? 

 
First thing first: you don’t have to feel ashamed for your feelings. Depression can hit everyone, it’s all about the wrong combination of events and learned behaviour. Second crucial message: you can get help! The most important part in getting better is talking about the issue. But here comes the problem: in many countries mental health issues are not seen as ‘real’ problems. People tend to underestimate the effect of mental disbalance and might think that you’re just ‘over-sensitive’. Furthermore in many cultures people who suffer from depression get stigmatized. This is why they want to hide their symptoms and become even more isolated. We know that this is a burden for many. But don’t let that keep you from getting better!
 
Try to find a quiet moment to talk to your Host Family. Maybe you feel more comfortable with talking to one parent at a time. Describe the trouble that you’re going through and ask for help. Depending on your situation they will either advise you to see a doctor who will then professionally support you. Or maybe talking about your situation with a person who shows empathy will already make you feel better. In case seeing a doctor and/or talking with your Host Family is definitely not an option for you, there are other ways for you to get help. 
 
For example, the website BetterHelp.com offers online counseling for mental health issues. The principle is easy: after inserting information about your needs, the platform will offer you a certified counselor who will then get in touch with you online. The advantages are clear: you don’t need to leave the house, the service is available worldwide and you can talk to someone who is trained to help people in your situation. Please remember that you should see a doctor when you suffer from severe depression. In this case an online counselor will not fit your needs. 
 

Treatment

Usually, there are two ways to treat depression. The first one is counseling and the second (and optional one) is medication called antidepressant. Actually, every country provides different kinds of therapy. What they all have in common is that the psychotherapist will first provide you with information about your disorder. The main goal is to understand what is happening to you so that you can understand the reasons behind it better.

As the name indicates, in behavioral therapy you will learn how to change your behaviour. This can be achieved through a different way of thinking which is called a re-framing of the situation. By taking a new perspective you might discover insight that you haven’t had before and which will guide you to feel better. The psychotherapist will give you practical tips on how to cope with negative feelings when they occur so that you learn how to control your thoughts and actions. Another form of therapy is psychoanalysis. The treatment founded by Sigmund Freud focuses on unconscious inner conflicts. In studies it is shown that this kind of therapy is especially suitable for people who suffer from more mild to moderate issues. 
 

Prognosis

When you suffer from depression you might be afraid that this state of mind will go on forever now. But don’t worry: you can get better! Even without a treatment some people affected already say that they feel their symptoms reduce over time. However, you shouldn’t take this as a reason to stay alone with your mental issues. Being in a treatment means a huge relief for most people. 
 

Get help - you’re worth it!

 
The first step of getting better is understanding what you are suffering from. We hope that this article already provided you with some necessary and helpful information. What is the consequence that you should keep in mind after reading this? 
 
The most important thing is: you can get help - but only if you reach out for it. And reaching out means to talk to your Host Family, your family and friends at home or with a doctor or therapist. And we are 100% sure that you’re worth of getting this help! So if you need anything or would like to have more information, send us an e-mail to info@aupair.com. The Au Pair community is there for you! 

Next week we will talk about anxiety and how to deal with it as an Au Pair - so stay tuned!
 
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