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Mexican migrants have more depression and anxiety than those born in the U.S., survey finds

April 04, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Mexican migrants have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to U.S.-born Mexicans, a study led by UC Davis scientists says.
Mexican migrants have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Mexican migrants are more prone to mental health disorders compared to Mexicans who were born in the United States, researchers reported Monday.

The researchers compared survey data from 2,519 non-migrant Mexicans and 554 recent Mexican migrants. They found that moving to the United States increases the risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems in people ages 18 to 35. Mexican migrants ages 18 to 25 had the highest risk of depression -- more than four times the rate seen in same-age Mexican peers who were born in the United States. The risk of experiencing an anxiety disorder was more than threefold in the migrant group.

About 12 million people living in the United States were born in Mexico, according to the authors, who were led by scientists from UC Davis.

Previous studies show that greater acculturation among Mexican Americans is associated with more mental health problems.

"The longer immigrants remain in their country of origin, the lower the likelihood that they will develop anxiety and mood disorders," the senior author of the study, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola of UC Davis, said in a news release. "Conversely, there is evidence that the younger the Mexican migrants are when they arrive in the U.S., the greater their propensity to develop these disorders."

As a group, Mexican migrants suffer stresses that must be addressed by public health programs in both countries, the authors said.

The study was published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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