Yahoo Health and Latino Health – It’s Not Surprising LGBTQ Affected by Mental Health Issues — But the Reasons Are Inexcusable
Researchers from the Washington State University of Washington have found that nonheterosexual males were twice as likely to be depressed than heterosexual males, and in general nonheterosexual men and women were at higher risk for anxiety and mood disorders.
While not surprising, these findings are concerning and demonstrate that there is work to be done to help nonheterosexual achieve the mental health they deserve. Very pleased to help out with this important piece by Korin Miller for Yahoo Health about depression in gay males and lesbian females. To read the full piece, CLICK HERE.
This interview was also picked up by Latinoshealth.com, highlighting the role of prior bullying, abuse, or rejection in predicting future mental health issues among LGBTQ adults. This was also a finding of the study and consistent with earlier research on the harmful mental health effects of bullying and abuse. To read the full article at Latinoshealth.com, CLICK HERE.
That can make a lasting impression on a person’s psyche, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, who specializes in the treatment of anxiety, tells Yahoo Health. “I work with a lot of nonheterosexual clients and notice that life can be particularly hard for them,” she says. “It isn’t easy to be different, and the chronic challenges of a nonheterosexual lifestyle can make everything seem harder, leading ultimately to mental health issues.”
The problems may start from the time a person realizes his or her sexual orientation is different from the majority’s, she says, and may be exacerbated as a person encounters challenges that often accompany being a nonheterosexual. “It can be hard to stay mentally healthy along the way,” Clark says.
Research has shown that gay men in particular have higher rates of body dissatisfaction and shame due to gay male culture’s emphasis on physical appearance…That can create a lot of stress and anxiety for a man, which can even lead to depression. “Not only are gay men concerned about societal stigma for their sexual orientation, but gay men can feel intense social pressure from their community to be a picture of physical attractiveness that isn’t always possible,” says Clark. “They feel shame about their perceived physical flaws and can also be shamed by their partners, making it hard to come to terms with one’s physical limitations and realities.”
“Societal and cultural pressure can generate a great deal of added anxiety and relationship angst,” Clark says. “It is isolating to feel different, and although we know so much of sexual orientation is biological, people still harbor a great deal of shame.” If that anxiety isn’t redirected into realistic values or channeled into productive action, it can create a vulnerability to depression and self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse, Clark says.
However, it’s possible for nonheterosexual people to lower their risk of developing a mental illness. Clark says the most important way is to get educated about the symptoms of anxiety and depression and know your odds of developing each. If you show an early sign of decline, get help.
“Don’t let one more stigma (mental health) stand in your way of finding the happiness and satisfaction you deserve to feel in life,” she says.