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Mood altering drugs like Prozac are freely available in the Kingdom. Kimberley Mccosker
The expat blues
Sat, 20 June 2015
While foreigners generally enjoy a lifestyle in the Kingdom far better than they would at home â€“ and far, far better than most Cambodians â€“ loneliness, dislocation and culture shock still all take their toll.
David didnâ€™t feel depressed when he relocated to Cambodia from Italy in 2012, though he had suffered from the illness in the past. It wasnâ€™t until a year after the â€œexpat honeymoonâ€ stage that the clouds began to form again.
â€œYou lose interest in everything. You become less active â€“ a lack of will to do anything or accomplish your goals. Basically, you just let life go by. Thatâ€™s what happened,â€ he said.
The 29-year-old, who asked to use a pseudonym for this article, sought out addictive activities to â€œfill the gap that was leftâ€ â€“ cigarettes, sex, online social networks and gaming.
â€œI could deal with it, but I didnâ€™t want to. I could live almost a normal life, but I was aware it wasnâ€™t life at its full potential. And thatâ€™s what bugged me. Thatâ€™s when I decided to see a therapist.â€
David is just one of many expatriates dealing with depression in the Kingdom. Listed by the World Health Organization as â€œthe leading cause of disability worldwideâ€ with an estimated 350 million impaired, depression is one of humanityâ€™s most pervasive and least understood illnesses.
Among people living abroad, it is strikingly common. According to a joint study on the prevalence of mental disorders among US expats conducted by the Truman Group and Chestnut Global Partners in 2012, those living in a foreign country were 2.5 times more likely to be suffering from a mental ailment such as depression or anxiety than their countrymen living at home.