Does Traveling Help Depression?
If you're suffering from chronic depression, that is, depression that has been lasting for many months or many years, then you've probably tried many different ways to get rid of it and cure yourself such as doctor-prescribed medications and other types of conventional treatments.
There are many different things that can cause depression and this is why it's best to investigate all possible causes or remedies to establish why you feel this way, or to at least attempt to successfully recover from it.
But one thing you may not have thought of is taking a trip or a vacation. Sometimes this can be the best remedy and help for severe depression and sadness and can uplift you again and make you feel good about life again.
This is why there's many movies that show people traveling or moving to new places to escape the depression and bad memories that affect them back home. Examples of this would include Rambo (the fourth film in the series) where the main character John Rambo has moved to Thailand to get away from things, or Beyond Rangoon where Patricia Arquette's character goes on a trip to Burma (Myanmar) after the death of her husband and son.
But these aren't just scenarios that happen in movies. They take place in films because they take place in life, and art often imitates life. Every day there is somebody who is experiencing depression or some type of traumatic event who decides to travel to forget about things for awhile or to find themselves and overcome the negative feelings.
So if you're one of these people who is constantly experiencing sadness, emptiness, or chronic depression, then here's a few reasons why you should try travelling to cure these feelings.
The overall best reason to travel for depression is because when you're doing something new and surrounding yourself with new scenery and things, the mind is constantly busy taking in these new experiences and sights.
The mind has less time to dwell on the past and whatever is bothering you and making you feel down. The senses are brought to life again because you're seeing new things that excite the mind.
You're also smelling different smells such as the way the air smells in a particular country or the way the cultural food smells as you're walking past it on a city street. All of this just makes the whole experience feel that much more real, unlike watching a movie about someone traveling where only your senses of sight and sound are experiencing some of it.
When you fully submerge yourself into new experiences, you're basically giving your brain a break by distracting it with other things for awhile. Now one would think you'd just go straight back to your depression as soon as the experience is over or as soon as you return home.
But the fact is, for most people, depression is like a hole that they've fallen into and once you're in that hole, it can be hard to get yourself out and get your brain thinking in a different way. But once you're out of that hole, your brain can learn to be stimulated again and it's harder to fall back into that hole and get stuck like that again. For some people, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and in these cases it may require more than just a trip to a new place in order to be cured.
But even in some of these cases, stimulating the brain with all these new experiences can help release serotonin, which is known as the "feel good" chemical in the brain. The brain may have had a serotonin deficiency from you being depressed for so long, that it may have just needed a jump start in order to start producing more serotonin at regular levels again.
Lots of people suffer from depression simply because they have a negative outlook in their life. It may not be a chemical imbalance at all in this case and they may just need a reason to be happy again.
When people travel, they often gain new things like a sense of meaning in their lives, a feeling of independence, and a boost in self esteem.
By doing things you never thought you'd be able to do, you may feel better about yourself and gain more confidence, not only in yourself, but in your overall outlook on your life. Sometimes when people travel after something bad happens in their life, others will sit on the sidelines and judge them and try to say that they are "running away from their problems".
But it's really no different than somebody taking antidepressant medication, other than avoiding all the nasty side effects that can happen with those types of pills. You're simply using travelling as a way to cure your disorder and allow your brain to heal again.
This can often turn into a spiritual journey as somebody gets more in touch with themselves and the world around them, and many people find themselves and find meaning in their lives by traveling. This can give people more reasons to live and to enjoy life as they find purpose where they previously didn't have any.
Sometimes people get so depressed because they're stuck in their day to day problems and fail to see the big picture.Someone may be really depressed over a girlfriend or boyfriend dumping them, for instance, and when they get away from the problem and see how big the world is and meet new people they will sometimes see how insignificant their problems really were.
Sometimes you just need to assess a situation by taking a step back and looking at it from a distance. When your face is buried in a problem, it will seem much bigger than it really is. There's an old saying that says "Don't sweat the small stuff", and that's true when it comes to most people's concerns.
The things most people make a big deal out of are usually insignificant compared to what is really going on in the world and all the other options available to people.
When you travel you may find that things are not the same everywhere and this may remind you that moving somewhere near, such as to a new town or new area, can help you start over and begin your life again with more opportunities or people around you.
To the people who once lived on the famous Easter Island, the world was very small to them because the island was all they ever knew. As far as they knew, the world was nothing but water and their island was the only place with people like them.
Little did they know that across the ocean there were millions of other people going about their daily lives and there were thousands of other places with things they'd never seen before.
So sometimes people in today's society who have depression actually have another disorder which I like to call "Easter Island Syndrome". It's not necessarily a disorder, but an outlook on life, and an incorrect view on the world.
When you're on that little island, the island may seem very big and the problems on it are very significant. But step back and look at the island from a distance and then it becomes nothing more than a tiny island in a massive ocean.
The problems on that little island suddenly don't seem quite as significant as they were when you were on the island.
Improved Social Life
Another benefit of traveling is that you can meet other people when you're going to places that have many tourists. It's often easier to make friends when you're traveling because people who travel are often in a better mood and more willing to befriend other fellow travelers.
Because they are also getting away from their problems, they may not be as reserved or anti-social as some people are when they are home. So if someone doesn't have any friends in the town where they live, they may find it much easier to make friends while on the road because you now have many things in common with anybody you meet out there.
It's easy to strike up a conversation with another traveler because you may both be going to the same destination or they may have already been there before and can give you advice, or vice versa if you've already been there.
So people who have social anxiety or who are anti-social may find that getting out and seeing new places can actually help them to come out of their shells. As mentioned before, when you're taking in new things, this can help cure depression by distracting you away from your problems at home and also by releasing serotonin in the brain.
So if this occurs, you may be more friendlier or accepting of new people because your depression may be the reason you're unable to connect with others. Sometimes people can sense sadness, anger, or apprehensive feelings in others, and this makes it harder for them to approach you.
When you're in a good mood, others can sense this and they may be more willing to go out of their way and approach you then if you look friendly or happy.
So this can help cure your depression over the long-run because even when you return back to your normal life again, you may have made some good friends in the process who can help you improve your outlook on life.
You may return home and have a better outlook because you now know how easy it really is to make friends and you know you can do the same thing again in the future.
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