LGBTQ Anxiety and Depression: Understanding and Overcoming

Statistics show that those within the LGBTQ community experience anxiety and mood disorders at higher rates than the general population. A variety of issues and underlying problems lead to this disproportionate statistic. For anyone experiencing these mental health issues, though, pinpointing a solution is often more desirable than understanding the root cause.

At Transformations Treatment Center, we understand the importance of both these factors. Identifying the issues that lead to increased rates of depression and anxiety in LGBTQ individuals is often key in treating the conditions. Fortunately, these mental health conditions are not an unavoidable part of life. Contact us today to learn about our LGBTQ-focused services.

Anxiety and Depression in the LGBTQ Community

Individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) make up less than 5% of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, depression and anxiety disorders disproportionately affect the group. This holds true whether a person is “out of the closet” or not. In fact, concealing sexual orientation or gender identity can be a direct cause of mental health issues.

Unfortunately, LGBTQ depression and anxiety rates aren’t the only potential negative outcomes linked to sexual orientation or gender identity. Several adverse risks affect the population at varying points of the life cycle. Mood disorders cause some of these risks in specific situations, but in many cases, the underlying issues contribute to both problems.

The Centers for Disease Control have identified the following increased risks among the LGBTQ community:

  • Actions that contribute to violence (e.g., fighting)
  • Suicide or suicide attempts
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Behaviors that cause unintentional injury (e.g., driving drunk)
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse disorders

Researchers observe each of these increased risks among LGBTQ youth. It’s not a person’s sexuality or gender identity, though, that lead to these negative outcomes. Some people who fall into these categories actually experience no mental health issues or increased risk of dangerous behaviors at all. The real problem stems from external issues or perceived bias.

Risky behaviors, depression and anxiety in the LGBTQ community may be a reality, but these outcomes often have more to do with how others view sexuality than any individual issues.

Causes of Depression and Anxiety in the LGBTQ Community

Some people try to attribute depression and anxiety in LGBTQ individuals to underlying mental illness. It’s important to make perfectly clear, though, that your sexuality is not a disease. The problems faced by those who identify as LGBTQ often come from minority stress. This specific form of stress stems from the prejudice, stigma and discrimination encountered by these individuals.

Even though the world has become relatively more accepting of sexual and gender minorities (SGM), discrimination and hate still exist. When people get constantly exposed to stressful and hostile social environments, it’s not uncommon for mental health problems to emerge. The following experiences directly lead to minority stress:

  • Expectations of rejection
  • Concealing sexuality or gender identity
  • Internalizing homophobia
  • Ameliorative coping processes
  • Experiencing prejudice or discrimination

Unfortunately, these experiences occur all too frequently. LGBTQ high school students experience bullying at nearly twice the rate of their heterosexual classmates. They’re also nearly three times as likely to deal with sexual dating violence. This at least partially explains why the suicide attempt rate among LGBTQ students is nearly five times above average.

As many people within the LGBTQ community can attest to, it’s not just school peers that cause minority stress. When COVID-19 led to social distancing and lockdown orders, for instance, symptoms of anxiety and depression among LGBTQ youth ballooned. That’s because nearly one-third said they felt unsafe in their living situation when the pandemic started.

If you don’t feel safe at home, how can you feel safe anywhere? Whether stress comes from home or elsewhere, though, there are ways to overcome depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression Treatment for LGBTQ Individuals

Treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders has made significant strides in recent decades. Medications have become safer and more available, and the use of non-drug therapies has proven very effective. When treating any mental health issue, though, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. Certain treatments may be more effective for some than others.

The following therapies have shown particular promise for treating anxiety and depression in LGBTQ individuals:

  • Peer-support programs
  • Family therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Behavioral therapies

Transformations Treatment Center offers these and many other effective therapies. Unfortunately, the efficacy of these approaches means little if someone is afraid to reach out for help. In many situations, depression and anxiety in LGBTQ individuals goes undiagnosed because they fear discrimination when seeking help.

This is something you don’t have to fear at Transformations Treatment Center. Whether you’re struggling to come out, battling severe depression or trying to process trauma, you’ll find an open and affirming environment here. We also offer various group therapy settings where you’ll find others who are both accepting and understanding of your needs.

The following are just a few of the groups we offer:

  • The Coming Out Process
  • Relationships
  • Bullying and Other Childhood Trauma
  • Sex Addiction and Dating Apps
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Abandonment
  • Methamphetamine in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Depression and anxiety in the LGBTQ community can both cause and stem from the difficulties faced by these individuals. Everyone currently occupies different paths in their journey, and the needs of a specific person are typically unique to them. Whether depression is your sole concern or other issues have developed, a treatment approach customized to you is essential.

LGBTQ Anxiety and Depression: Help Is Possible

While sexuality may not be a choice, seeking help is. Growing up as an LGBTQ individual puts many people on the receiving end of abuse and ridicule. Hiding your sexuality may seem like a preferable route, but even this can lead to unhealthy emotional responses. If you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone.

At Transformations Treatment Center, our staff of certified professionals understands the unique experiences of those in the LGBTQ community. The need for an accepting environment is paramount, and from that point, effective treatment can begin. Depression and anxiety in the LGBTQ community may be common, but it doesn’t have to be your reality.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you take control of your life.

Sources

Gallup
https://news.gallup.com/poll/259571/americans-greatly-overestimate-gay-population.aspx

Centers for Disease Control
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/su/su6901a3.htm

The Trevor Project
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/majority-lgbtq-youth-experiencing-anxiety-depression-amid-covid-poll-finds-n1242111

Psychological Bulletin
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072932/

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