Ulysses Syndrome


Dr. Joseba Achotegui, a Spanish psychiatrist at the University of Barcelona, coined the term “Ulysses Syndrome.” According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, this is “a psychological syndrome characterized by chronic stress associated with the problem of migrants to settle in a new residence. The name comes from the mythical hero Odysseus, who after disappearing for many years (ten according to Homer), and on the way back to Ithaca, longed for his homeland was prevented from returning to it.”

There is no doubt that many immigrants can identify with this syndrome. Most have to leave their country for reasons beyond their control and are confronted with a reality that is very different from what they expected. I have heard Hispanic immigrants complaining about their situation and their inability to solve their problems. Too often, they and other immigrants feel alone, overwhelmed, and lost in a strange world and do not know where to turn or what to do. Leaving behind children, spouses, family, and friends; feelings of failure; and the fear of being alone can all become a traumatic experience and even trigger depressive episodes.

According to Dr. Achotegui, the symptoms of Ulysses Syndrome are sadness, excessive crying, anxiety, irritability, headaches, fatigue, memory loss, and even suicidal thoughts. A significant number of people try to combat their problems by consuming alcohol, which will most likely lead to far more destructive consequences in their lives.

Fortunately, there is help. Individual and group therapy are some of the interventions used to overcome feelings of depression and loneliness.

Please seek help if you identify yourself with some of the symptoms mentioned above.

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