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Even when it's a happy and much-anticipated event, moving from one's homeland to a new country can cause significant stress. For people from areas of unrest and instability, moving to a new homeland can cause severe stress, especially when the move is associated with traumatic issues or events, including abuses in their country of origin. Often, these emotional stressors can make it much more difficult for a person to become adjusted following their move, resulting in feelings of anger, hopelessness and even rebellion and resentment, which are often directed at their new country. People with immigration trauma have difficulty “fitting in” and may wind up becoming isolated and depressed. Learning to manage these issues can help immigrants overcome their traumatic experiences and develop healthier levels of self-esteem that can help them adjust better to their new lives. In the U.S. today, there are more than a million refugees and people living in refugee-like situations, according to the United Nations, and many of these people are at risk for developing mental health issues.
Immigration trauma symptoms can vary based on each person's unique immigrant experiences, but in general, symptoms may include:
feelings of isolation
severe anxiety or fear
feelings of hopelessness
acts of rebellion
Immigration trauma typically has deep roots that can extend well into a person's past. Psychiatry works by helping people understand the root causes of their trauma so they can learn techniques to manage them effectively while building feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. In addition, medications may be used to help control feelings of depression or severe anxiety so patients can develop better coping skills to help them become acclimated to their new society.
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