Low mood, anxiety and depression are so common in Dubai, but often go unrecognised, disregarded and neglected. Multiple factors are unique to us ex-pat mums here that combine to worsen the effect, yet make it harder to admit how you feel and it is often whilst we are here in Dubai that we choose to start our own families; a massive challenge in many new and unexpected ways. 

The motherhood we have yearned for & looked forward to for years is not always everything we predicted, in good ways and unfortunately more taxing ways – emotionally and physically. Often we don’t have the family support networks here that we otherwise would ‘back home’ and the friends we have here may feel like they’re all new friends, and not the ones we grew up with, rode our bike with, or went to uni with.

Meanwhile it seems that everyone else here is having a ball… brunches, designer clothes & handbags, staycations/holidays, nannies/drivers, expensive cars, the selfies on social media – the list is endless. 

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ can become a very real and stressful scenario for many.

With the recent economic situation in the Middle East many families are suffering with reduced packages, job losses and a general financial strain. Living costs, schooling, childcare and healthcare are extremely expensive here, and we are left without an option of whether to pay or not. There is not the safety-net of free education and healthcare that we may have been used to. 

Many feel a sense of loss of their cultural identity – ‘where is home?…. is it Dubai, is it London or Hampshire?’ As well as the uncertainty  – ‘how long will we be here?’, ‘would we be able to fit in and settle down back home again?’ Many husbands and wives have to travel more here for work, which can lead to other kinds of problems.

I mainly want to say that if you’re feeling low or anxious, you’re not alone! And you do not need to suffer. There are many ways to help, from talking therapies to medications. As a GP from England I have been overwhelmed over the years by the amazing benefits some mood medications can make, and I can only describe it as ‘life-changing’. I am not sponsored by any pharmaceutical company, but speak from the experience of treating many patients suffering from low mood and/or anxiety. It seems more taboo here, and was a more open topic back in the UK. Medications, if needed, are not dangerous or addictive.

The signs and symptoms to look out for include:

Little interest/pleasure in doing things, feeling down/depressed/hopeless, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feeling tired or having no energy, feeling bad about yourself or that you’re a failure/let down, poor appetite or over-eating, trouble concentrating on simple things, tearfulness, and general anxiousness.

If you think you may be feeling this way please come to see me. We only get 1 life… better to go through it smiling rather than crying.

Dr Negin Hakim (nee Afshar)

Read more: 

Understanding post natal depression 

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