Most of us look forward to some time away and, if anything, dread the return journey back to normality. For some unfortunates the whole concept of travel and its related stresses is enough to send us slightly mad.
If you recognise yourself in any of these categories it may be time to seek help!
Typical symptoms of Paris Syndrome include: hallucinations, anxiety, sweating and palpitations. Who are its victims? Strangely, this syndrome is restricted to Japanese tourists visiting Paris. All of us who have visited France have encountered the rude waiter or taxi driver, hollering and refusing to speak English. We may laugh it off but the Japanese are a polite well mannered nation and the French culture is quite a shock to their delicate constitutions. It was identified around 20 years ago by a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota. On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists suffer from Paris Syndrome each year, mainly women in their early 30s unused to the ‘manners’ of the Parisians. You see, it’s not just the Brits the French aren’t keen on, it’s everybody!
Effects of Mefloquine
Visitors to malaria plagued tropical climates will be offered a variety of anti-malarial medication to take. In places where the mozzies are particularly virulent, mefloquine is normally prescribed. Initially developed as an anti-malaria drug by the American army back in the 1960s, this drug has some potentially psychotic side effects. Although rare, they include anxiety, depression, abnormal and possibly violent behaviour, insomnia and psychosis. Is that it? Phew, that’s alright then. Anyone with a history of depression or emotional problems is probably best to avoid it. Check with your doctor.
Art lovers beware. Hours of lingering in museums gasping at the beauty of various treasures can be bad for your health. You may even develop Stendhal Syndrome! This psychosomatic illness is named after the French writer Mari-Henry Beyle, writing under the pseudonym Stendhal when she first reported the symptoms back in 1817. Stendahl Syndrome is an overwhelming tendency to faint whilst gazing at stunning works of art. It was first diagnosed in – yes you guessed it – Florence in 1982 and is so widely recognised that the Italian film maker Dario Argento made a horror film about it in 1996, wittily entitled: The Stendahl Syndrome. It’s most commonly seen in tourists trying to cram too much art into one day instead of taking a break and doing sensible things like drinking.
Culture shock can hit at any time but is more likely to affect those on a gap year spending an extended time in their chosen destination. It’s not a disorder, more an emotional rollercoaster experienced by most travellers when they’re away from home for a longer period of time. The novelty of being somewhere new is replaced with feelings of homesickness. The good news about culture shock is that most of us soon adjust to our new surroundings and start to feel at home in a whole new environment, relatively quickly. Of course, on heading home you can experience a whole new sensation. Reverse culture shock. I’m sure you can work that one out for yourself.
Aviophobia (and so on)
We all know someone who is petrified of flying but Aviophobia is a fear of any long distance journey by any means of transport. Those of you volunteering abroad this year will encounter various modes of transport so it’s best to know in advance if you suffer from this condition. You’ll know if you do when you find yourself vomiting before or during your journey. Fear of flying is common enough and there are strategies and techniques to help sufferers deal with it. If this seriously affects you every time you contemplate venturing further than your local city centre then perhaps it’s time to seek help from a professional.
The more serious symptoms of travel sickness, particularly any side effects from travel medicines or phobias about flying, should be discussed with a doctor. As for the rest, well, when you’re taking that special new someone you’ve met on holiday to an art gallery and they start to swoon, don’t be disillusioned. It’s not you, it’s them.
Biog: Kate Smedley would love to take a gap year sometime very soon.