Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Mexican immigrants to US at risk for mental-health problems
Mexicans ages 18 to 25 who migrate to the United States are four-and-a-half times more likely to suffer depression than those who stay in their home country
Young adult Mexican migrants in the United States are much more likely to suffer depression and anxiety disorders than family members of migrants who remain in Mexico, a new study finds...
medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a researcher with the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities. "The results suggest that after migrating from Mexico to the U.S., migrants are more likely to develop significant mental-health problems than individuals who remained in Mexico."
The study says Mexicans ages 18 to 25 who migrate to the United States are four-and-a-half times more likely to suffer depression than those who stay in their home country. They are also three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer anxiety than those who did not migrate, the study says.
"From the Mexican side, this study is very important, because most of what we know about what is happening to the population when they are in the United States is based on studies carried out in the U.S. only," said Guilherme Borges, senior researcher with the National Institute of Psychiatry, Mexico, and professor of psychiatry at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "Now, for the first time, we have data that compares the situation in the U.S. and in Mexico."
About 12 million Mexicans live in the U.S. – and make up 25 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population, which is at about 50 million.
About 550 Mexican-born migrants and 2,500 Mexicans who live in their home country were interviewed for the study. Participants responded in either English or Spanish.
The study found that migrants at greatest risk were the youngest – those 18-25 years old at the time of the study.
The reason for the high depression could be found in prior studies – which found that adopting the American culture, or acculturation, is the reason for the deteriorating mental health when Mexicans arrive in the U.S.
"This study confirms our earlier research that suggests that the longer immigrants remain in their country of origin, the lower the likelihood that they will develop anxiety and mood disorders," said senior study author Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, professor of clinical internal medicine, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities and an author of the earlier studies.