New Latino Immigrants Show Less Depression


A report by the National Alliance on Mental Health suggests that Latinos born in the United States or those who have lived in the country for a long period of time are at a higher risk for depression than Latinos who have recently immigrated.
Foreign-born Latinos are also less likely to demonstrate behaviors linked to depression such as substance abuse.  Those born outside the U.S. have a significantly reduced probability of attempting suicide or developing depression symptoms, compared to acculturated or U.S. born Latinos.
A related study from Stanford University found that depression in Latinos is highly related to how long they’ve been in the United States. Those Latinos who immigrated at an older age show lower risks of developing depression symptoms compared to those U.S. born or who arrived between ages 0 and 17.  Only 8% of Hispanic immigrants who have been in the country for less than 13 years, suffer from depression – compared to the national rate of 20%.
The researchers explain the lower levels of depression cases in recent immigrants is related to their having strong support system through their ties to their culture and family. “Latinos have very strong bonds between each member of the family, which, in spite of economic, educational, and lower socioeconomic status, help them move forward despite the obstacles and struggles that they may have,” read the study conclusion. “As Latino immigrants acculturate over time, stress levels rise and the children begin to lose their connection to their parents and develop an American lifestyle.  This increases their chance of experiencing depressive symptoms and ultimately developing depression.”
Depression in the Latino community is made worse because a number of Latinos stigmatize mental illness, viewing it as something that will brand a family for generations.  Instead, some Latinos value resilience over treatment.  A study from the University of Southern California revealed that Latinos who stigmatize mental illness were 22% less likely to take depression medication, 21% less likely to be able to control their depression and 44% more likely to have missed scheduled mental-health appointments.