Although most people manage to cope with the negative aspects of migration through the existence of other positive aspects, migration is a risk factor in mental health due to migratory stress or bereavement, called immigrant’s syndrome or Ulysses’ syndrome.

Sources of stress

  • Loneliness caused by the separation from the loved ones.
  • Feeling hopeless and a failure because of the maybe few opportunities to get ahead with a project abroad.
  • Absence of a social support network.
  • Fighting economic problems such as paying for housing, food.
  • Fear or disorientation.
  • Temporality of a situation.

Stages of grief

  • Denial: the reality of the change is not accepted.
  • Resistance: when facing difficulties and challenges, complaints about the effort involved in order to adapt to the new situation.
  • Acceptance: settles thoroughly in the new situation.
  • Restitution: accepting the positive and negative aspects of both the country of origin and the host country, involves affective reconciliation.

Psychological defenses

People use a series of psychological defense mechanisms or errors in order to help them cope with the new situation abroad. They are not in themselves negative but when they are plentiful they radically distort the view we have of reality and prevent us from adapting and preparing for migratory grief.

  • Selective abstraction is about focusing on a detail drawn out of context.
  • Arbitrary inference, excessive generalization when a conclusion or rule is drawn from one or more isolated facts.
  • Maximization and minimization, distortion modifying the magnitude of events.
  • Personalization, attributing external phenomena unjustifiably.
  • Absolutist or dichotomous thinking, classify experiences as “all or nothing”, in extreme categories.