Psychiatry & Psychology--General/How to overcome homesickness


Starting college classes tomorrow and very homesick. It has been a terrible experience so far and all the orientation events are making me horribly stressed out. For example, the faculty speakers are constantly scaring me with how different college classes are from high school and how it's so much harder. Also, the career center lady said that a lot of freshmen have already made appointments with her even though the school year hasn't even started. When should I really begin worrying about that stuff? I just want all this to be over and to have my old life back. I also have ASD and am extremely shy. I have no friends and the only people I really talk to are my parents therefore I am extremely close to them and miss them badly. I fear it may stay this way forever and that I may never have a wife or family. I fear that when the day comes that my parents aren't around anymore (when they die), I will not be able to go on without them. I fear that I will fall into depression and have to end up dropping out of school. I can't even enjoy activities I used to love doing either (e.g. watching youtube, reading a favorite book, martial arts) because it always leaves me longing for home even more. Everyone else here seems so cheerful while I am near tears and I have a hard tine believing that anyone else is feeling this way. Going to college has turned my entire world upside down, its an extremely rude awakening for me.


I want to reassure you that the homesickness you are experiencing is felt, to some degree, by everyone who is leaving home for college. It may be the first time some individuals have ever been away so this is a stressful but important time in life. I think what you describe is a more intense type of homesickness but I am hoping you will be able to manage it so you do not succumb to the desire to return home. You realize, by what you have said in your post, that in order to move forward with your life, you need to overcome this extreme dependence on your parents.

First, I am wondering if your college has a counseling center for their students. Most colleges do and I am encouraging you to use it and use it often. It may be your link to being able to stay in college, which I firmly believe will be the best out of this situation. While it feels like your homesickness is unbearable, I will tell you over time it will get better.

Second, you indicated that your dependence on your parents for companionship is a longstanding issue that existed before leaving for college. You said you have Autism Spectrum Disorder and this has made you very shy. That does make it painful to be put into a situation where you have to make friends out of strangers. Would it help you to realize that while your condition makes it very painful, that everyone suffers these feelings of insecurity to some degree? I do think counseling can help you manage these painful feelings, providing the college has hired some good therapists to support their students. If you find the college counselors not sufficiently helpful, Google therapists in your area where the college is located. I might suggest you look for "Psychoanalytic psychotherapists" or "psychodynamic psychotherapists;" this is the type of background from which I practice. Interview them briefly over the phone, telling them your problem and asking them if they have had experience in helping new college students through this severe form of anxiety over leaving home.

Third, I do not believe going home is going to be the answer for you in the long run. I am wondering, given your depnndence on your parents to the exclusion of others, whether your parents sufficiently encouraged and supported you to seek companionship outside the home, with friends and acquaintances. Some children, particularly with ASD, need extra help in making friends and need to be encouraged and assisted, consistently, in making and maintaining friendships. Parents can aid in this process or they can be instrumental in avoiding or sabotaging this process. If this is the case, they end up making it much more difficult for their child, particularly when it becomes time to separate.

Your therapist can give you the added support and guidance in how to manage this separation and the anxiety of making new friends. Sometimes it is helpful to realize that everyone has some form of social anxiety but they mask it in different ways. Imagine you and all the students are sharing in this anxiety and perhaps that can help put you at a bit more ease. If you think about the other person's feelings it can take your mind off your own. Sometimes trying to make the other person more at ease actually has the same impact on you. Let's see of it works in your case.

If all these suggestions do not seem to work, your therapist can suggest a psychiatrist who can recommend a mild anti-anxiety medication, which can get you through the worst of the initial phase of adjustment. Then, once your therapist can help you manage your feelings more effectively, the goal would be to gently decrease these medication(s) until you no longer need anything but the counseling.

I hope this has been helpful. If you like, you can let me know through this site, how you end up managing the situation. I wish you the best of luck.

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Jacquelynn Cunliffe


I would like to answer under the category of Psychiatry and Psychology. However, I would like to see a separate category for Psychotherapy/Psychoanalysis. I do not answer questions about medications as I do not prescribe. My expertise is in psychotherapeutic treatment.


I am a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who specializes in the treatment of mental health issues caused by childhood trauma, domestic abuse, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, and a wide variety of psychological disorders. The kind of therapy I do is often referred to as deep therapy, talk therapy, or psychoanalytic therapy. Please note that I am not against medications and when managed well, medication can be an adjunct to psychotherapy intervention. I think it is important for the public to realize that psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychotherapy DOESmake changes not only in people's minds but those changes can also be detected in their brain structure. Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are powerful interventions to help people change their lives from the inside out.

American Psychoanalytic Association American Psychiatric Nurse Association Member of Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia Member of National Eating Disorder Association

Ph.D.-University of Pennsylvania, Psychology and Education, Division of Human Development M.S.N. and R.N.-B.C. Board Certified Nurse in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 2-Year Adult Psychotherapy Program graduate 2-Year Child Psychotherapy Graduate Current: Candidate in Psychoanalytic Training at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

Past/Present Clients
I have worked with clients who have experienced significant childhood traumas. These patients come with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, relationship difficulties and diagnoses such as Personality Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, and, though rarely, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly multiple Personality Disorder)

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