Common Questions About Travelling with Depression
Depression probably ranks as the least understood illness there is. It still carries an air of taboo about it, an underlying attitude of it not being a ‘real’ problem, that you either have no right to feel down about life or should just get on with it like everyone else does.
Depression is also one of those things that can spark us into making serious changes in our lives. In a strange way, if you’re able to get to grips with the underlying causes, it can be empowering, driving us to take that decision to quit the job you can’t stand and find new purpose in life, or follow our dreams and jet off to travel the world.
But there are also risks in this. Depression can equally make us act impulsively, even recklessly, losing sight of the bigger picture and making decisions which could later be regretted.
So, if you’re feeling like you just need to get away from it all and get a fresh perspective, is travelling the right thing to do when you’re suffering from depression? Here are some key questions you should ask yourself.
Should I just drop everything and go?
Probably not – although it depends whether you’re talking about taking a two-week holiday to find some space for yourself, or ditching your job, family and friends for a permanent life on the road. Being impulsive and following your instincts can be empowering. But if you are depressed, you have to be very conscious about your frame of mind. Give yourself some time to decide on a course of action, and plan things properly.
What should I do about my meds?
This is one key reason why it is important to think carefully about travelling with depression. If you are on medication, setting off without your prescription, or running out halfway through your trip, could be disastrous. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a foreign country, in a strange environment, with no support network suffering a sudden relapse. If you want to take a long trip, then carrying large quantities of medication with you can be problematic, particularly as different countries have different views on some of the drugs commonly used to treat depression. Then you run into issues of how to fulfil prescriptions in other countries, and whether the medication you have been prescribed is available. The best advice is to speak to your doctor and come up with a plan with them.
What precautions can I take?
Letting close friends and family know your plans, your schedule and keeping in touch with them throughout your trip is strongly advised. Again, travelling can mean removing yourself from your usual support network, especially if you are planning to go alone. It’s vital that you keep open lines of communication in case you do reach crisis point, and that loved ones know how and where to get hold of you in an emergency.
It is also important that you take out the right travel insurance. If you are on prescribed medication, you must declare this to insurers. They will consider this a pre-existing medical condition, and that will alter the terms on which they will offer you cover. If you fail to declare your depression and then need medical treatment while you are abroad, that could invalidate your policy, leaving you to pay the medical bills. Click here to find out more about travel insurance for depression.