What are anxiety and depression?

The immigration process can be challenging for your mental health. Many people find moving to a new country to be stressful. A big life change like immigrating can trigger many different feelings as you adjust to your new home.

There is a lot happening all at once when you settle into your new home. Things like; culture shock, language barrier, stress from job search, waiting for your family to join you, lack of a local social network and so much more.

It is normal to process all of these feelings and eventually get back to feeling like yourself. If you don’t feel better after giving yourself enough time to adjust and you find yourself constantly worrying or sad about everything, there may be more going on that you should talk to your health care provider about.

What is anxiety?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), anxiety disorders involve “excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for a period of at least six months, about different events or activities”.

You may notice that with anxiety,  you may feel:

  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling uneasy
  • Restless
  • Irritable
  • Tired from not sleeping well

Keep in mind this is more than just being overly cautious or getting nervous occasionally. Anxiety disorders can, and often do, interfere with your daily life.

What is Depression?

Depression is not just a feeling of sadness or being simply unhappy. It affects your whole body; physically and mentally. You might experience some of these symptoms of depression if you:

  • Have negative thoughts about the world, or about yourself.
  • Are having trouble dealing with sadness about things that have happened to you, or you think about them a lot without feeling better about life
  • Feel like you have no energy or motivation
  • Can’t sleep or sleep too much
  • Notice a big change in your eating habits, you’re more or less usual
  • Might have pain or tension in your body that is new for you
  • Feel nothing at all; some people call it “emotional numbness”

This is not a complete list, and there are many other symptoms that are not included here that you should discuss with your health care provider.

Just like with anxiety disorders, CAMH states that “clinical depression, sometimes called major depression, is a complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetics, personality, stress and brain chemistry. Depression is not something that people can “get over” by their own effort.” It is a serious medical condition that requires medical care.

When Should I Get Help?

When thinking of your physical health, it’s not always perfect; the same can be said for mental health. You may experience times of poor mental health without having a mental illness. Mental health changes can affect how you think, feel and act; it can be mild or severe but is rarely long-term. And, as with any health issue, you may need to visit your health care provider in order to help you get better.

Everyone will experience times of sadness, anger, loneliness and even nothing at all; some people call it “emotional numbness”. If you have recurring or ongoing episodes of poor mental health it may be a sign of something more serious. You should speak to your health care provider as soon as possible if these feelings are increasingly impacting your daily life in negative ways.

If you are feeling like life isn’t worth living and are in crisis you should get help now; either contact your health care provider or go to the nearest emergency room.

For More Information

  • ConnexOntario - Free and confidential health services information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental health and/or gambling. Available 24/7.
  • Mental Illness & Addiction Index - Links to information and resources about mental health and addiction. From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
  • Children’s Mental Health Centre - Child and youth mental health centres are available with virtual, phone and in-person walk-in clinics. Sessions are available for parents/caregivers too and don’t need a referral or OHIP card.
Last updated: July 29, 2021 4006166