Bisexual women suffer more from depression: study
The term LGBTQ is used to signify the general community. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the community has the same wants and needs– a assessment pointed out by a study that found bisexuals, specifically bisexual women, are more susceptible to depression and suicide.
Likewise, in the recent study by Drexel, the study noted that the segment of questioning and bisexual youth is being overlooked in current studies involving mental health and the LGBTQ (or lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, and questioning).
The study was conducted by Drexel’s Department of Couple and Family Therapy and was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study had 2,513 participants with ages between 14 and 24.
Questioning and bisexual women experience higher anxiety
The Drexler study reported that female bisexual and questioning people had significantly higher scores for depression, anxiety, and traumatic distress than female heterosexuals.
Moreover, the study noted that when it came to suicide, bisexual, questioning and lesbian female respondents had significantly higher scores for lifetime suicide ideation (i.e. they thought about suicide) than heterosexual females.
Among this group, bisexual females had the highest scores for current suicide ideation.
“I think one point is important to point out: with the exception of lifetime suicidiality, women who reported exclusive attraction to other women were actually no more at risk than women only attracted to men for depression, anxiety, traumatic distress, current suicidiality or substance abuse,” said Annie Shearer, research assistant with Drexel’s Family Intervention Science program with the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
“I think this contradicts previous findings that same-sex attraction is always a risk factor for mental health symptoms. This may reflect an increasing societal acceptance of same-sex attraction and relationships,” Shearer said.
Overlooked bisexual women and men
The Drexel study also noted that questioning and bisexual youth are not given the same consideration as other members of the LGBTQ community.
“I think the failure to include bisexual individuals in research studies reflects a larger culture of bisexual invisibility,” said Shearer.
“And with regard to questioning individuals, I think people assume that is a temporary identity, causing them to be overlooked, too,” she said.
The team who conducted the study also found out that male gay and bisexual respondents displayed significantly higher scores for depression and traumatic stress with gay males scoring significantly higher for anxiety than heterosexual males.
However, though bisexual males trended higher than heterosexual males for anxiety, it was only slightly. But their lifetime suicide ideation scores were significantly higher than heterosexual males.
An important distinction between the male and female survey-takers was that questioning males did not exhibit any significant risks for mental health symptoms.
Being sensitive to bisexual women and men
The study concluded that there’s a clear need to be sensitive to differences across the LGBQ community and they shouldn’t be lumped together.
“I think bisexual persons and, perhaps, questioning individuals as well, experience prejudice and stigma from gay and lesbian communities in addition to heterosexual communities,” Shearer said.
“Furthermore, some people still refuse to acknowledge bisexual and other non-binary identities as legitimate, which I think can be very harmful to those who can’t– and shouldn’t have to– identify as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual,” she said on the situation on bisexual women and men.