Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Immigrants-Mental health, Depression, Mental-Etiology, Depression, Mental-Risk factors, Depression, Mental-Prevention, Immigration, Immigration paradox, Major depression disorder, Risk factors, Protective factors


The goal of this study was to explore whether immigration was a risk factor for the development of depression and which were the triggers and protective factors that contribute to the development of depression among a specific population (N = 51) of highly educated legal immigrants during their first years living in the US. Additionally, it sought to determine if the "immigration paradox" (Franzini, Ribble, and Keddie, 2001) could be found in this specific population as well. A quantitative exploratory method design was used, and participants were recruited using the snowball sampling technique, and participated in this research through an anonymous web-survey. No theoretical or epistemological consensus was found among the existent literature about if immigration is or not a risk or a protective factor for development of depression, and no data were available on this population's immigration process until this present study. The results of this study showed that of participants (74.51%) reported feeling emotionally different during the first year after they had immigrated, with the presence of sadness, anxiety, low self-esteem, reduced energy or fatigue, depressive mood, and difficulties to sleep as the most frequent complains; those symptoms were severe enough to impair their lives in 23.53% of the cases. The conclusion of these current study findings suggests a higher correlation between immigration and onset of depression. However, the immigration paradox could not be completed rejected in this sample because although a higher correlation between immigration and depression was found, the majority of the sample also reported excellent (37.25%) to very good (52.94%) current emotional health, which indicates that even though they had experienced depression during the first year after immigration this mental illness is not present anymore. Further studies are necessary to confirm the initial hypothesis of this study, in this specific population of immigrants.




iii, 75 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 43-49)