A new study finds that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Canadians experience more mood and anxiety disorders than other Canadians.
The findings also suggest the individuals are more likely to turn to heavy drinking as compared to any other group.
“Often gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are grouped together in studies, but we found there are important differences in their reported health,” said Basia Pakula, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.
“These findings are extremely useful because this information has not been available for us in Canada until now.”
Although the current study did not look at the causes of anxiety and mood disorders in this population, an extensive body of research suggests gay, lesbian, and bisexual people experience chronic stress related to prejudice and stigma, said Pakula, who led the study.
The findings come from more than 220,000 Canadians who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2007 and 2012.
The study, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, found that gay and lesbian Canadians reported about twice the rates of anxiety and mood disorders compared to heterosexual Canadians.
For bisexual Canadians, the rates were nearly four times those of heterosexuals and approximately twice the rates of gay or lesbian respondents.
Investigators hope the study’s findings will be used to plan and allocate resources for health services that better respond to the issues facing these groups.
Stress appears to be a significant contributor for the group challenges. “There is growing evidence that being the target of micro-aggressions in the form of daily slurs or prejudiced comments can be psychologically damaging,” Pakula said.
“Bisexual people often face a double stigma from within heterosexual and gay or lesbian communities, and lack needed supports.”
Pakula and her colleagues say people often turn to substances like alcohol to cope with ongoing stress.
Any health interventions aimed at helping people deal with stress and anxiety or mood disorders should also address the unique needs of the population, Pakula added.
Source: University of British Columbia