Migration May Spur Depression, Anxiety Disorders

Higher risk seen in Mexicans who migrate to U.S. than in nonmigrants in Mexico

WEDNESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Mexicans who migrate to the United States appear to be at higher risk for depressive and anxiety disorders than their family members who stay in Mexico, though this association is seen only in younger birth cohorts, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Joshua Breslau, Ph.D., Sc.D., of the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine in Sacramento, and colleagues analyzed survey data on 2,519 nonmigrant family members of migrants in Mexico and 554 Mexican migrants in the United States to determine whether there is an increased risk of depression and anxiety in migrants after arriving in the United States.

The researchers found migrants in the United States to be at significantly higher risk for first onset of depressive or anxiety disorders than nonmigrant family members in Mexico (odds ratio, 1.42), but this association varied across birth cohorts and was restricted to the two younger cohorts of ages 18 to 25 and 26 to 35. In the most recent birth cohort, the link between migration and first onset of a depressive or anxiety disorder was especially strong (odds ratio, 3.89).

"This is, to our knowledge, the first study to compare risk for first onset of psychiatric disorder between representative samples of migrants in the United States and nonmigrants in Mexico. The findings are consistent with the hypothesized adverse effect of migration from Mexico to the United States on the mental health of migrants, but only among migrants in recent birth cohorts," the authors write.

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