Symptoms of Anxiety on Both Sides of the US-Mexico Border

The Role of Immigration

Published in: Journal of Psychiatric Research, v. 61, 2015, p. 46-51

Posted on RAND.org on January 19, 2015

by Guilherme Borges, Beatriz Zamora, José Garcia, Ricardo Orozco, Cheryl J. Cherpitel, Sarah E. Zemore, Joshua Breslau

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Home to about 15 million people, the US-Mexico border area has suffered stresses from increased border security efforts and a costly drug war in Mexico. Whether immigration patterns add to increasing levels of anxiety for the Mexican population and the Mexican-origin individuals living in the US-Mexico border and near the border is unknown. We used the US-Mexico Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions (UMSARC), a cross-sectional survey (2011-2013) of individuals living in border and non-border cities of the US (n = 2336) and Mexico (n = 2460). In Mexico respondents were asked if they ever migrated to the US or have a family member living in the US (328) or not (2124), while in the US respondents were asked if they were born in Mexico (697), born in the US with no US-born parents (second generation, 702), or born in the US with at least one US-born parent (third generation, 932). The prevalence and risk factors for symptoms of anxiety using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (>= 10) were obtained. Mexicans with no migrant experience had a prevalence of anxiety and adjusted prevalence ratio (PR) within the last month of 6.7% (PR = reference), followed by Mexicans with migration experience of 13.1% (PR = 1.8), Mexican-born respondents living in the US of 17.3% (PR = 2.6), US born Mexican-Americans of 2nd generation of 18.6% (PR = 3.3) and finally US born 3rd-plus generation of 25.9% (PR = 3.8). Results help to identify regions and migration patterns at high risk for anxiety and may help to unravel causal mechanisms that underlie this risk.

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