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Battling Post-Immigration Depression

This blog post is on a topic that is very relatable to myself and my family. Battling post-immigration depression is a subject that, due to globalization, is becoming more prevalent in our society.

What is Post-Immigration Depression?

As you may have guessed from the name, post-migration depression is a mental health condition that affects migrants as they adjust to a new culture and environment. All around the world, people these challenges as they try to assimilate into a new country.

What are the symptoms of Battling Post-Immigration Depression?

Culture shock

Culture shock is the initial disorientation that occurs when one arrives in a new country and is faced with unfamiliar surroundings and unexpected differences in the culture. You may have had a very different idea of what your life in your new home would look like, and the reality may be overwhelming for you.


Loneliness is sadness or grief that comes from isolation or feeling alone in a new environment. This loneliness can often go hand in hand with culture shock, especially if you have not yet found a good support system like the one you had back home.


Homesickness is the sense of longing for your homeland, family, or things familiar and comfortable from your past life. The homesickness you may be feeling can be normal to an extent, but if you find yourself homesick a lot of the time, it may be a sign of post-migration depression.

Why do I have Immigrant Depression?

You may find it challenging adapting to life in your new country because of the pressure to assimilate. Depending on the country you have migrated to, this can be more challenging in some countries than in others.

While some countries may offer migrants opportunities to settle and integrate into society; other countries put them under constant pressure to assimilate and adopt the new culture. When this pressure is not managed properly, it can lead to depression.

Other potential causes of immigration depression are not being able to reconnect with your origin culture, make new friends, or achieve your goals due to barriers such as language differences. Another challenge could be the lack of knowledge about the host country’s culture and customs.

Post-migration depression may have you feeling like an outsider or unwanted in the newly adopted country. Feeling like you don’t belong anywhere can be depressing for anyone; but for someone who has experienced emotional trauma, this feeling can be magnified and may lead to you suffer from symptoms of post-migration depression.

woman of colour sitting with hands in face

How do I know I am depressed?

Depression is a disorder that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. People who have depression have an increased risk of suicide.

You may be suffering from depression if you have some or all of the following symptoms:

– Feeling sad or down more often than not

– Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable

– Decreased energy

– Difficulty concentrating

– Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

– Change in appetite (increased appetite, decreased appetite)

– Thoughts about death (suicide), suicide attempts, or suicide planning

– Irritability or frustration; anger; overreacting; acting impulsively; taking risks without thinking about the consequences

Immigrant depression is a public health issue that has been highlighted by the World Health Organization. They estimate that millions of people worldwide suffer from this condition every year. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, you are not alone and you manage it.

immigrant woman of colour staring into the distance

Managing Post-Immigration Depression

Migrating to a new country can be overwhelming, to say the least. There are, however, some things that can help ease post-migration depression.

Connect With Others

Getting out, interacting with others, and making new connections can tremendously improve your health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that making friends helps improve your mental health since it will increase your sense of belonging, boost self-esteem, and reduce stress. In an unknown place, even just one friend could make a big impact.

When you have someone to introduce you to where to get the best coffee and who you can lean on during difficult times, this will help with depression. Connecting with community groups is important for your mental health, so try finding a group based on your interests. If you experience any barriers around this, such as social anxiety, make sure to address this.

Get out of the house

Leaving the house and getting out into the community may be daunting, and that’s okay. Making the move to a new country requires a lot of bravery. Channel that bravery when you are feeling overwhelmed by going outside of the house. It is important to resist the urge to hide away from your new environment. Even if all you can do is go for a walk around your neighbourhood, getting outside will be great for your health.

Explore with curiosity and wonder. Oftentimes, it helps to make an attempt to replace fear and anxiety with curiosity and gratitude. A simple mindset shift could make a great difference. Take, for example, the fear of trying to navigate a complicated public transport system in a new city. Rather than focusing on the fear of how easily you could get lost in such a complex transit system, focus on how intricate and amazing it is that it goes so many places. Look for local parks to enjoy the outdoors in, find your new favourite eateries, or try a local fitness class.

Learn the language

Learning a new language is difficult and requires patience. Not speaking the language may make it difficult to order meals, make friends, or simply find your destinations. This can be increasingly frustrating and make it tempting to simply interact with other expats who speak your native language. However, it is important that you also learn your host country’s language. This will allow you to feel more independent and it will provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Stay Connected with your culture

Our culture is deeply rooted in who we are and has shaped our worldviews. It is because of this, that it is important to hold on to our culture so that we may feel grounded in the face of adversity.  Whether it’s cooking meals from your home country, attending local cultural festivals or events, or speaking in your mother tongue-all of these will help you feel like your old self. I must extend, however, a word of caution here since you can get stuck in what is called an immigrant time warp and this can lead to you battling post-immigration depression.

immigrant woman of colour looking longingly at border fence

What is Immigrant Time Warp?

The term “immigrant time warp” was coined by sociologist Edward J. Telles. The immigrant time warp is the condition of immigrants who are not assimilated into their new society but are stuck in the culture they grew up in.

Immigrants experience a sense of loss when they come to a new country when they are forced to lose touch with their native culture. You may feel fear, anger, frustration, and resentment when you have to assimilate into a different culture with unfamiliar customs. Immigrant Time Warp is a term used to describe the immobile state of mind caused by culture shock and stress that immigrants experience when they move to a new county. This mental immobility and refusal to move forward as the world changes can cause migrants to feel even more homesick and depressed.

Migrants stuck in a time warp are usually afraid of losing their identity and culture in the new country. This fear dictates their lives, and they hold on tightly to their cultural values, customs, traditions, and beliefs. This can be problematic because they may often find themselves on the receiving end of prejudice and discrimination, which may lead to even more anger and resentment.

Many immigrants experience this feeling of living in two different worlds. These migrants fear leaving their old world behind and forgetting who they are. Migrants choose just how much they will assimilate into their new country. Whatever you choose, consider your mental health and the impact your decision may have.

Reach Out for Help

Adjusting to life after migrating to a new country is never easy. A scientific study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health was the first evidence recorded that immigration experiences might lead to the onset of mental health problems. Studies have also found that higher depression rates exist among immigrant populations with adverse conditions in host countries. These conditions include lower socioeconomic status, individually perceived discrimination, and stress from living in a culture different from their background culture.