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Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about booking a flight to anywhere, almost drowning in the desire to explore the world and have an adventure? If so, you’ve experienced the phenomenon increasingly referred to as wanderlust, and don’t worry—you’re not alone.

Wanderlust, originally a German word, is typically defined as “a strong desire or impulse to travel.” Currently, there is no concrete scientific evidence to explain the feeling of wanderlust, how it manifests, or even whether it is a discernible feeling at all, but some research has been done on a possible source for wanderlust—the DRD4-7R gene. Dubbed by some as the “wanderlust gene,” DRD4-7R is a variation of the DRD4 gene, which is involved with dopamine levels in the brain as well as with motivation and behavior. DRD4-7R is carried by roughly 40% to 60% of the American population and has been linked specifically to feelings of curiosity and restlessness, the same variety that categorizes disorders like ADHD. Nonetheless, as noted in The Huffington Post, scientists generally agree that no single gene can account for something as complicated as a human emotion or behavior, so take everything about DRD4-7R with a grain of salt.

Many people experience feelings of wanderlust. Source: Artur Debat

Despite the lack of scientific basis for wanderlust, many people liken it to an illness complete with signs and symptoms. According to the online publication Elite Daily, there are several notable markers for wanderlust, including constant yearning, general dissatisfaction, lucid daydreaming, and extreme nostalgia. Coping with wanderlust can be serious because a return to reality and responsibility may spark a bout of depression, especially in individuals already suffering from mood disorders. Wanderlust Travel Magazine suggests seeking professional counseling if necessary. Otherwise, some of their helpful tips include networking, joining a travel club, and staying in touch with friends met while traveling.

Though wanderlust is not yet recognized officially by the scientific community, it is still a very valid, common feeling among many individuals. The topic leaves a lot of room for further study into the fields of genetics, neuroscience, and the astounding complexity of human behavior.

Featured Image Source: travel by Global Panorama

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