The physiological effects of acculturative stress in Latinx adults in the U.S. and subsequent implications on mental health outcomes: A review of the literature

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2022-05

Authors

Pedroza, Sofia

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Abstract

Mental health, a crucial contributor to physical health, wellbeing, and quality of life, is impacted by acculturative stress in Latinx adults living in the United States. Physiological effects of various kinds may mediate the acculturative stress and mental health outcomes measured in the U.S. Latinx population. In this project we illustrate a possible three-step line of causal associations from the social environment to subsequent bodily changes to mental health. To narrow the scope of this project, the main mental health outcomes of focus, for which associated physiological effects are discussed, were anxiety/depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD-like symptoms. The literature gives sufficient evidence that not only is there a wide variety of physical changes that occur due to acculturative stress and in response to perceived discrimination, but that these physical changes have been associated with consequences on mental health. This analysis also demonstrates the need for further research into the physiological effects of acculturative stress. Specifically, there is a need for more longitudinal studies in the Latinx population that accounts for other dimensions of identity such as gender identity, sexuality, skin color, etc. The research presented in this study can help healthcare professionals and the public understand how acculturative stress, as well as most forms of discrimination, can have tangible and serious consequences on the health and wellbeing of the vast Latinx population of the U.S.

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