Common Mental Health Problems Facing Immigrants

Immigrating to a new country is a stressful process, especially when immigrating to the United States under the current Trump administration.  Since the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump, there has been an uptick in anti-immigration rhetoric and policies.

New research shows that most immigrants coming to the United States have immigration-related mental health problems (Bedard, 2018). This rise in mental health issues among this group of individuals is due in part to the fact that less immigrants are seeking out authorities to provide mental health help and welfare out of fear of potential deportation. These welfare and mental health help programs can prevent and/ help immigrants better manage anxiety and depressive symptoms so that they can still function in their day-to-day lives (Bedard, 2018).

Another reason why immigrants are struggling more with mental health problems is due to the fact that they are dealing with post-migration trauma and stress–contributing to depressive disorder diagnoses (Bedard, 2018).

Those that are seeking asylum in this country and must go through political asylum processing proceedings benefit from mental health evaluations. Dr. Joseph Giardino, PH.D. is a bilingual immigration psychologist in New York City with vast experience conducting mental health evaluations. These mental health evaluations help prove that the form of harm faced by these immigrants is serious enough to be considered persecution, and will help strongly in applications for asylum.

Below, you will find a list of common mental health disorders experienced by immigrants. A mental health evaluation will catch these diagnoses and help immigrants secure their position in this country despite an anti-immigrant political climate.

Common Mental Health Disorders Faced by Immigrants

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

According to the DSM-5, PTSD is a trauma- and stressor-related disorder resulting from exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence (American Psychological Association, 2013).  

To be diagnosed with PTSD a person must show one or more symptoms within the (a) intrusive and (b) avoidant symptom clusters.  Also, a person must show two or more symptoms within the (c) negative alterations in cognition and mood, and (d) arousal and reactivity symptom clusters.

2.  Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)?

According to the DSM-5, Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by some of the following criteria: depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day, psychomotor agitation or retardation, diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, and/ recurrent thoughts of death.

These symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, and can be specified with anxious distress, mixed features, melancholic features, atypical features, mood-congruent psychotic features, mood-incongruent psychotic features, catatonia, peripartum onset, or with seasonal pattern

(American Psychological Association, 2013).

3. Sleeping Disorders  

Sleep disorders are comorbid with anxiety disorders. Some sleep disorders that are comorbid with anxiety disorders include Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, and Narcolepsy (Staner, 2003).