Depression





Here are some fast facts:

  • Approximately 8% of Canadian adults will experience ‘major’ depression at some time in their lives.
  • Large Canadian studies indicate that gay people are more likely than heterosexuals to report unmet mental health needs and were more likely to consult mental health practitioners.
  • Studies have found high rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive–compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidal thoughts and acts, self-harm, and alcohol and drug dependence among LGBT people.
  • Studies found that sexual minority individuals were 2.5 x more likely than heterosexuals to have attempted suicide and had a risk of depression and anxiety one and a half times higher than heterosexuals.
  • LGBT youth have an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, isolation and experiencing sexual abuse. A Canadian study estimated that the risk of suicide among LGB youth is 14 x higher than for their heterosexual peers.
  • A recent U.S. study of LGBT youth found that 10% of them met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder and 15% met the criteria for major depression.

 

Depression and anxiety are very common among gay men, and some of the most common reasons why we feel depressed include the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia surrounding us as well as the subsequent shame and guilt that follows. Depression can begin early in the teenage years as a result of ridicule, harassment and abandonment from sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

In terms of HIV prevention, we now know that it is important to focus on all of our parts as gay men – mind and body in order to prevent new HIV infections or better support and affirm those of us currently living with HIV!

Here is a great resource produced by the Canadian AIDS Society called “Talking about Depression, Anxiety and HIV/AIDS” (2014)

Article: “Study finds more gay men now die of suicide than HIV” by Nathaniel Christopher, Xtra September 17, 2014

Some signs of depression:

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
  • Loss of interest in the things we usually enjoy
  • Negative thoughts about ourselves, nothing will ever change, we deserve this…
  • Feeling sad or ‘numb’
  • Low self-confidence/self esteem
  • Feeling disappointed, hopeless, angry, irritable
  • Feeling anxious or worrying more than usual
  • We may notice a change in our appetite (decrease or increase)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Loss of energy, tired, or exhausted, physical exhaustion

 

What to do?
If you feel like you’ve been experiencing some or all of these symptoms for a period of time, it’s important that you try and speak to someone like your family doctor. In addition, reach out to a friend or perhaps even, a mentor/role model in the gay community.

Sources:
Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, 2014
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario branch, 2013
Rainbow Health Ontario
EGALE Canada

 

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