Mood, anxiety, and personality disorders among first and second-generation immigrants to the United States

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Njeri Kagotho, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


A careful examination of the multigenerational relationship between immigrant status and mental disorders can provide important information about the robustness and nature of the immigrant-mental health link. We examine immigrant status as a protective factor against mental illness, assess intergenerational effects, examine differences across race/ethnicity, and report the prevalence of mood, anxiety, and personality disorders of immigrants across major world regions. We employ data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and compare first (n=5363) and second-generation (n=4826) immigrants from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America to native-born Americans (n=24,461) with respect to mental disorders. First-generation immigrants are significantly less likely than native-born Americans to be diagnosed with a mood, anxiety, or personality disorder, though the prevalence of mental health diagnoses increases among second generation immigrants. Similar results were observed for immigrants from major world regions as the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity was lower among immigrants from Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia compared to native-born Americans. Findings provide evidence in support of the notion that the immigrant paradox may be extended to include mood, anxiety, and personality disorders in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1028-1036
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 30

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health ( R25 DA026401 −PI: Valdez).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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