How Anxiety Affects the LGBTQ Community
Although attitudes toward the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community have shifted dramatically in recent years, people with these identities continue to face discrimination and harassment throughout the country. As such, the rates of mental illness are higher among the LGBTQ community than the general public.
In addition to other mental illnesses, people in the LGBTQ community are more likely to develop anxiety disorders. In order to help LGBTQ people heal, the general public should work to understand the scope of the problem, what causes people in this community to have higher rates of illness, and how LGBTQ people can find help.
High Rates of Anxiety in the LGBTQ Community
Researchers have found that people in the LGBTQ community are more likely to develop mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. In fact, up to 60 percent of LGBTQ people develop anxiety and depression in their lives. This means they are more than twice as likely to live with these conditions than their peers who are not LGBTQ.
The high rates of anxiety go hand-in-hand with higher incidences of depression as well. This can lead to life-threatening problems. For example, high school students in the LGBTQ community are five times more likely to consider suicide than their peers, and nearly half of all transgender people of all ages have considered suicide at some point.
What Causes This Epidemic?
It’s important to note that the high rates of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community does not mean that such people are weak or less-than anyone else. Instead, people should see these high rates as a result of the prejudice that LGBTQ people face every day.
One source of anxiety for LGBTQ people is called “minority stress.” Researchers have found that being part of an oppressed community–whether it’s by race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion–causes stress and anxiety in communities. Every microaggression or outright hateful act causes some amount of stress in the full community.
Sadly, a lot of the anxiety in the LGBTQ community comes from traumatic experiences. About 80 percent of teenagers in the community have been harassed or assaulted at least once. Each time this happens, a person is more likely to consider harming themselves.
How People in the LGBTQ Community Can Cope with Anxiety
If you or someone you know has thoughts of attempting suicide, seek immediate help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has LGBTQ-friendly staff and can be reached anytime at 1-800-273-8255. You can also go to the nearest emergency room for assistance.
LGBTQ people with mental health needs can also find support from these resources:
Finding a supportive friend or family member can make all the difference in the life of an LGBTQ person with anxiety. Sometimes, people find support within their existing social circles. Friends and family can often be supportive. However, many people are in situations where it is unsafe to come out to these people.
People in the LGBTQ community may find validation and support from groups both online and in person. These groups can also help people see that they are not alone.
Finding an LGBTQ-Friendly Therapist
As helpful as these resources are, some people need a little more support in overcoming anxiety. A therapist can offer a safe place to discuss emotions and tools to work through anxious feelings. Therapists in Florida may be in the community themselves or allies.
At FLBH, we offer therapy services to people from all walks of life, including people in the LGBTQ community. We can help people work through their anxiety while staying safe.