Mexican migrants to the United States may be at significantly higher risk to suffer from depression and anxiety than those who stay in their home country, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and reported by Fox News Latino.

Even though about 12 million Mexicans live in the United States and make up 25 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population, this study is the first to examine and suggest that migration puts immigrants at “clinically significant” mental-health risk.

“We had the unique opportunity to examine the effect of migration by comparing migrants with people in their country of origin who did not migrate,” said study author Joshua Breslau, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. “The results suggest that after migrating from Mexico to the U.S., migrants are more likely to develop significant mental-health problems than individuals who remained in Mexico.”

For the study, researchers interviewed 550 Mexican-born migrants and 2,500 Mexicans who live in their home country. Participants responded in either English or Spanish.

Researchers found that Mexicans ages 18 to 25 who migrated to the United States were four and half times more likely to suffer depression and three and half times more likely to suffer anxiety than those who stayed in their home country.

This study reinforces early research that has found that the stress of acculturation, or trying to adopt the American culture, has a negative impact on mental health.

“We tend to be very disease-specific when we address migrant health, but this is an enormous global population whose broadly based health care needs have largely been overlooked,” said Marc Schenker, UC Davis professor of public health sciences. “And within the range of health conditions, mental health in particular has not been addressed. Migrants experience a wide range of mental problems that are exacerbated by the enormous stresses of political and economic disenfranchisement and victimization.”

Guilherme Borges, senior researcher with the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico, added that Mexican-Americans are a “floating population” that lives in two worlds—their adopted country and their homeland—and that their health care needs must be met in both.

“This study is important because it shows that the stresses that result from the Mexican-U.S. migration process have to be addressed by efforts from both countries,” he said. “If you want to target this population successfully, you need to design programs that have an impact on both sides of the border.”