June marks Pride Month, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. As a mental health clinic, Brain Center uses this time to take a look at mental health in the community.
Statistics show that LGBTQ people are particularly prone to depression.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, rest assured you’re not alone and help is available.
Let’s go through everything you need to know about depression in the LGBTQ community, so you can work to overcome your depression.
Know the Statistics
LGBTQ adults are more than twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems than heterosexual adults. That number is even higher for trans people. Nearly four times the amount of adults struggle with mental health problems.
LGBTQ youth also tend to suffer from more mental health problems than their straight counterparts. LGBTQ youth are much more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. They’re also more likely to report feeling sad or hopeless.
Some statistics have shown that gay men’s health problems may contribute to depression. Gay men and bisexual men are more likely to suffer from eating disorders. These often coexist with depression.
Mental Health Problems Risk Factors in the LGBTQ Community
Certain risk factors can help account for why depression is so widespread in the LGBTQ community.
The use and abuse of drugs and alcohol can exacerbate existing depression or contribute to its cause. Engaging in risky sexual behaviors can also be a risk factor for depression and other mental health problems. That’s especially true for LGBTQ youth.
Because LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, are more likely to suffer from discrimination or societal abuse, they’re more likely to struggle as a result. Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse generally can make people more prone to depression.
LGBTQ people more often face physical or verbal harassment and assault based on their sexuality, which can also contribute to depression and other mental health problems.
Research has shown that LGBTQ people who live in less-tolerant communities are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, such as depression.
LGBTQ people are more likely to have fragile or non-existent family support, which can cause depression and make it harder to get help for depression.
Less supportive communities are hazardous for young LGBTQ people, who may lose access to housing, education, healthcare, and other financial support if their families negatively react to their sexuality.
Of course, factors that can cause depression in heterosexual people are also present for LGBTQ people. Genetics is one major factor that can cause depression, as can suffering from chronic illnesses.
Coming Out and Depression
Stress is a major preventable factor that can cause depression—and LGBTQ people often have many stressors. One of the things that could cause stress for LGBTQ people is coming out.
The reaction that LGBTQ people get after coming out for the first time can be a huge factor for their long-term mental health.
So, if someone comes out to you (no matter if you’re a fellow LGBTQ person or a straight ally), you need to have a supportive reaction and make sure you respond positively.
Tell the person that you’re proud of them, that you support them, and that you’re there for them.
If their identity requires a name and/or pronouns shift, use them immediately. Never, ever misgender someone.
If you’re having trouble keeping the pronouns straight, you can practice on an inanimate object. Practicing will help you ensure that you get it right for your loved one.
Of course, coming out is rarely a one-and-done event. Most people find themselves coming out in new situations for a lifetime.
A positive experience when first coming out can help reduce a person’s anxiety level when discussing their sexuality in future situations. Hopefully, this will also reduce the likelihood that they’ll suffer from depression down the road.
Treating Depression in the LGBTQ Community
To fight depression in the LGBTQ community, we need to fight the sources. Laws discriminating against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, are constantly in the news, causing stress on the LGBTQ community.
Laws discriminating against transgender children in sports, for example, are prevalent today. Other laws that hurt LGBTQ people that have recently been going through state legislatures, or are simply still on the books, include:
- Preventing trans people from updating their birth certificates
- Laws that prevent trans people from transitioning
- Laws preventing LGBTQ people from fostering or adopting children
- The “gay panic” defense
- A lack of laws recognizing non-binary genders
- Laws preventing trans people from using the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity
- Conversion therapy
Discrimination is one of the major problems that can contribute to poor mental health in the LGBTQ community. On an individual level, proper treatment can help LGBTQ people treat and manage their depression. Therapy can help them feel better on an everyday basis.
Symptoms of Depression
If you’re an LGBTQ person who thinks they may be suffering from depression, but you’re not quite sure, there are signs you can look out for. Some symptoms of depression include:
- Fatigue, lethargy, and insomnia
- Weight gain or loss
- Joint and body aches
- Inability to get things done
- Hopeless thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
When you’re suffering from depression, it’s essential to get treatment as soon as possible to prevent your condition from worsening. Look into your treatment options for depression if you think you may be suffering from this problem.
Depression treatment options could include talk therapy, group therapy, medications, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and others. You may find that you need to combine multiple treatment options to combat your depression successfully.
Depression in the LGBTQ Community: Now You Know
You should now have a better understanding of depression in the LGBTQ community. However, if you still have questions or are suffering from depression, help is readily available.
If this sounds like you or someone you love, then make sure you schedule your free consultation with us today.