Yet despite the way it’s coined, homesickness isn’t necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.
Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them — and hence home.
He offered another way of approaching homesickness: It’s merely an emotion that comes in waves. “Very few emotions stay with you all the time, they come and they go,” he said. But when it strikes, both children and adults often get caught off guard by it, he added.
"They think something’s terribly wrong. But it’s normal and adaptive to feel homesick for some period of time. It’s just your emotions and mind telling you you’re out of your element."