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The Link Between Immigration and Depression

Most major life changes are stressful. Whether you are having your first child, switching jobs, or moving to a new area, you are likely to encounter some mental stress and strong emotions.

For many immigrants, however, emotional strain becomes something more, eventually evolving into depression that prevents them from enjoying their daily lives and thriving in their new environment.

According to a study performed at the University of New Brunswick, migration to Canada “is a potentially disruptive and stressful experience” that can be a barrier to an immigrant’s success in Canada.

Data from Statistics Canada sheds more light on why immigrants tend to be afflicted with depression after they relocate. Two-thirds of university-educated immigrants are overqualified for the jobs they hold in Canada. In 2008, data revealed that 42 per cent of immigrants to Canada between the ages of 25 and 54 were overeducated for the jobs they performed. In a one-year period between 2008 and 2009, employment for immigrants in Canada fell by nearly 13 per cent.

For one man, an immigrant to British Columbia from the Philippines, his education as a civil engineer and military experience were not enough to land him a job in a similar field in Canada. After months sending out numerous resumes and dealing with countless rejections, he was forced to settle for employment as a security guard.

A professor of psychiatry stated that “chronic environmental stress,” such as dealing with the frustration of unemployment and underemployment despite high qualifications, can actually cause changes in the brain that lead to clinical depression.

Moreover, the problem is not unique to Canada. In the United States, studies report that recent immigrants are depressed at rates 40 per cent higher than their relatives who did not immigrate.

The Importance of Using the Mental Health System

Fortunately, there are free resources in Canada for individuals suffering from depression. Unfortunately, many immigrants are reluctant to use them. A researcher from the University of Toronto found that immigrants to Canada are less than half as likely to seek help for depression compared to the general population. According to the research, many non-Western cultures view depression as a private matter or something shameful.

The good news is that medical professionals have begun to take notice of the mental health problems experienced by immigrants and are adapting their treatment methods accordingly.

Butkowsky Immigration Law

With more than two decades of experience focused exclusively on immigration and refugee law, Larry Butkowsky has earned the respect of the Toronto legal community and the gratitude of many satisfied clients. He is committed to protecting his clients’ rights and making sure that they achieve their Canadian immigration dreams. Call (416) 979-2127 to discuss your immigration matters.

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