How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Is coming to America bad for your mental health?

Photo by Craig Dennis/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A new report from a mental health study of Mexican immigrants has found that immigrants to the United States face more than four times the risk of depression as those who don't immigrate, and that in general, coming to the U.S. increases their risk of depression, anxiety and other problems.

Yesterday the Archives of General Psychiatry published the results of a cross-national study conducted by UC Davis and Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry. The study analyzed data from interviews with approximately 550 male and female Mexican-born immigrants and approximately 2,500 peers who remained in Mexico, comparing the U.S. group with same-aged, non-immigrant relatives. From the UC Davis website:

It found that during the period following arrival in the United States, Mexican migrants were nearly twice as likely (odds ratio of 1.8) to experience a first-onset depressive or anxiety disorder as their nonmigrant peers. However, the elevated risk among migrants occurred almost entirely in the two youngest migrant groups, those between 18 and 25 years old and those between 26 and 35 at the time of the study.

The greatest risk was experienced by the youngest migrants, who were 18-to-25 years old at the time of the study. Their odds of suffering from any depressive disorder relative to non-migrants was 4.4 — or nearly four-and-one-half times greater — compared with 1.2 in the entire sample.

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