Premigration Harm and Depression: Findings from the New Immigrant Survey, 2003
Studies examining refugees from conflict areas have found that persecution in the place of origin is a risk factor for depression. No studies have looked at this association between mental health and the experience of premigration harm due to race, gender or religion in the general population of United States immigrants. The New Immigrant Survey baseline questionnaire was administered to a random sample of adults receiving legal permanent residency in the U.S. in 2003 (n = 8,573), including refugees, asylees and other immigrants. In multivariate analysis controlling for visa type, premigration harm was a predictor of general depression of borderline statistical significance [odds ratio (OR), 1.33; 95 % CI 0.98–1.80, p = 0.068] and a significant predictor of major depression with dysphoria (OR, 2.24; 95 % CI 1.48–3.38, p = 0.0001). These findings suggest that premigration harm is a risk factor for depression in the general immigrant population and not just among refugees.