The psychology behind emigration

Emigrating has become more and more common due to the current ease of travel and the fact that communication channels are more and more advanced, providing information. However, emigrating is not a decision that should be taken lightly for a number of important reasons.

Unfortunately, there are misconceptions about emigration that have encouraged the normalization of this action. Little has been said about the emotional and psychological risks which can lead to a bad or sudden emigration decision.

But how can emigration affect us psychologically and emotionally if we go in search of a better life?

    The psychological impact of emigration

    simply by the false expectations aroused by the normalization of emigrationLack of information can affect it to the point of triggering problems with depression, anxiety and adjustment, where the stress of simple migration is the protagonist. The aim of this article is to raise awareness of the psychological risks of emigrating whether we want to or not.

    Our minds, as strong as they are, are going to come up against troubled waters in the face of such a big change as emigration to another country. Of course, there are different types of emigration and not all go through the same circumstances, but depression, anxiety, and other stressors can affect us more than we realize if we are caught off guard.

    What are the psychological risks?

    Emigrating involves many changes in everyone’s lifeSo go study for a few months or be determined to search endlessly for better opportunities abroad. Unfortunately, emigrating is not synonymous with a better quality of life as many believe, because it is necessary to go through previous periods of adaptation in order to regain part of the lifestyle you had, and not just monetary as many think. emigrate it also involves another type of lossAnd like any loss sooner or later, a grieving process takes place.

    The life of each individual is made up of multiple areas that make up their full development and are therefore very likely to be affected by emigration: (Ziglar, 7 areas of life):

    • Career and work
    • Social: friends and environment
    • Family: support and healthy interpersonal relationships (as in the previous one)
    • Economic: independence and stability
    • physical health
    • Mental Health
    • spirituality

    Mourning and stress due to emigration

    As mentioned above, when you migrate you will go through grieving processes due to the change. Any change generates stress, and all of this can affect our emotional world., Thus triggering possible psychopathologies (Lavieri, 2015).

    Cultural change, nostalgia, lonelinessLack of social identification, anxiety and acute stress can also affect the immune system. Many immigrants do not seem to suffer from any kind of impairment or anxiety during the first few months of their move, either because they only went to study for a short time, the excitement of being in a new environment. or because they have family and friends. in the new country that help them adjust a little faster.

    However, social and cultural factors will eventually affect the cognitive maps creating the famous culture shocks, the differences in the way we work and even study.

    For example, education systems vary from country to countrySimilarly, working styles may also vary (eg new technology).

    Considerations when emigrating

    To avoid as much as possible the possible negative psychological effects of emigration, it may be helpful to follow these guidelines:

    • Draw a map of short, medium and long term goals and objectives.
    • Use false expectations immediate success (eg, The American Dream).
    • Avoid sudden emigration if you have a psychological disorder or if you suspect one. If the person suffers from depressive episodes, migrating without precautions can be very risky for their mental health.
    • Realize that self-esteem and identity can be greatly affected. The lifestyle will change.
    • Consider the culture, social situation, climate and language of the country to which you wish to emigrate. Be prepared to suffer any form of discrimination and rejection. Whether we like it or not, this is a reality to which every immigrant is exposed, regardless of social class, race, age or gender.
    • Prepare papers, preferably avoid going without papers. Failure to follow the law will increase stress and the risk of having legal problems, such as being deported, not being able to open a bank account, or simply not being able to be treated in hospitals. (Make way for jobs where there is abuse and exploitation through labor).
    • Understand this step it will affect career and professional identity. It is unlikely that you will get a job in your area immediately unless you have a job offer and yet there are risks to consider: size of the position, contract, probationary period, training and time allocated. by the company to adapt.
    • Realize that there will be emotional and work ups and downs. This also applies to those who migrate with children.
    • Take advantage of support networks. Do you have close acquaintances of the country?
    • Understand that professional help and family support should be sought if you suspect symptoms of depression or anxiety that make you enjoy isolating yourself, losing your way, and affecting your performance at school or at work.

    And the relatives of those who are leaving?

    For emigrant families, it may be helpful to follow these guidelines in the person being followed:

    • Avoid both comparative comments and the immediate successes of acquaintances who migrated.
    • Offer support and remind them of the benefits of the decision, Encourage them to achieve the proposed goal. And always remember where your house is if they decide to come back.
    • Avoid judging if you decide to come back. Family support is essential in the face of these drastic changes and the risks to mental health.


    Emigrating is not an easy decision, and because any decision requires a lot of maturity to make the change as bearable as possible. You have to understand the risks of emigration and the false expectations that are generated to see it as a popular thing to go to another country.

    If the right measures and precautions are taken, emigrating can be less risky and even take us where we want to go with the best tools, making the most of new experiences.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Lavieri, I. (2015). Most Common Psychiatric Disorders Among Immigrants: Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Addictions. Available at
    • Ziglar, T. (2016). The wheel of life. Available at

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