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Coming to America Can Increase Depression, Anxiety?

Coming to America Can Increase Depression, Anxiety?I chalk this up to the category, “This is news how, exactly?”

Here’s the finding in a nutshell — “After arrival in the United States, [Mexican] migrants had a significantly higher risk for first onset of any depressive or anxiety disorder than did non-migrant family members of migrants in Mexico,” the authors report.

Wow, surprising. You mean going to a foreign country, not necessarily knowing anyone, not necessarily having any job or job prospects, and not necessarily knowing the language can negatively impact your mental health?

Do tell.

The researchers “compared a sample of Mexican-born migrants (259 men and 295 women) after their arrival in the U.S. with a sample of non-migrants in Mexico (904 men and 1,615 women) on their risk for first onset of a depressive or anxiety disorder.” They surveyed people in both countries, apparently face-to-face, to gather their data.

The news release didn’t say how great the increased risk was, just that the migrants who moved to the U.S. had a “significantly higher risk.”

I imagine the same could be set for virtually any ethnic group tracked in a foreign country.

This isn’t particularly helpful, because we already know that many ethnic groups are at greater risk for not seeking help for depression. For instance, previous research has shown that Latinos’ culture hampers depression treatment and that different ethnic groups respond differently to antidepressants. I don’t know of any recent research specifically that has looked at Mexican treatment rates for mental health concerns, but I suspect they are closer to Latino rates than Caucasian rates of treatment.

Moving is a stressful life event. We already know that. In fact, it’s one of the largest stressful life events you can encounter, especially when it involves a geographic move — even within your own country.

Is it really that surprising — or of much “news” — to show that when people from one culture move to another country of a different culture entirely, that their mental health is going to suffer, at least temporarily?

I’d argue, not really. We already knew this, and the real challenge remains — how to help people who already don’t always fit into their new society, to reach out to them, who don’t understand or necessarily believe in mental health concerns, and help them get help if they are in need.

Sadly, this new research doesn’t provide us any new insights into those issues.

Read the full article: Mexican migrants have more depression and anxiety than those born in the United States, survey finds

Coming to America Can Increase Depression, Anxiety?


John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Coming to America Can Increase Depression, Anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/coming-to-america-can-increase-depression-anxiety/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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