- Christopher A Thurber, PhD, ABPP
Christopher A Thurber, PhD, ABPP
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Phillips Exeter Academy
- Edward Walton, MD
Edward Walton, MD
- Assistant Professor, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics
- University of Michigan
Homesickness is the distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents . It is characterized by acute longing and preoccupying thoughts of home.
Almost all children, adolescents, and adults experience some degree of homesickness when they are apart from familiar people and environments. In some individuals, the subjective distress and level of impairment related to this separation may be extreme.
Primary care providers can help families understand the etiology of homesickness, identify which children are at risk, and develop strategies for prevention and/or treatment. An overview of homesickness, including techniques for prevention with planned separations, such as summer camp, and treatment strategies for unanticipated or traumatic separations, such as hospitalization, will be presented below.
Homesickness is defined as the distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents . Severe homesickness is classified as an adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood according to the American Psychiatric Association taxonomy (diagnostic code 309.28) [2,3].
Homesickness is characterized by recurrent cognitions focused on home (eg, parents, house, loved ones, home cooking, family pet); it is always precipitated by an actual or anticipated separation from home. These features distinguish homesickness from other adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders, as well as from the separation anxiety felt by children when caregivers leave home (eg, because of divorce, military service, etc) [4,5].
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- Thurber CA, Sigman MD, Weisz JR, Schmidt CK. Homesickness in preadolescent and adolescent girls: risk factors, behavioral correlates, and sequelae. J Clin Child Psychol 1999; 28:185.
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- Thurber CA. The digital umbilical. Camping Magazine 2006; 79:44.
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- Thurber CA. Avoiding pick-up deals. Paper presented at: American Camp Association National Conference, Chicago, IL 2006.
- Risk factors
- CLINICAL FEATURES
- Clinical course
- Planned separations
- Special populations
- - Displaced families
- - Children with special health care needs
- General guidelines
- Summer camp stays
- - Coping strategies
- - Contact with home
- - Pick-up deals
- Hospital stays
- RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS