Bisexuals at Highest Risk of Mood Disorders and Heavy Drinking

By May Wilkerson 03/22/16

A recent study examined mental health and drug abuse among gays, lesbians and bisexuals living in Canada.

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Bisexuals at Highest Risk of Mood Disorders and Heavy Drinking
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People who don’t identify as straight are more likely to abuse alcohol and suffer from general mental health issues, a new study from Canada has found. The research, from the University of British Columbia (UBC), also revealed that people who identified as bisexual were the most likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders and to drink heavily, HNGN reports.

"Members of sexual minority groups in Canada, in particular those self-identifying as bisexual, experience disproportionate rates of anxiety and mood disorders, heavy drinking, and co-occurring disorders," wrote the study authors. 

In general, studies of the LGBT community tend to group bisexuals together with gays and lesbians, “but we found there are important differences in their reported health," said lead researcher Basia Pakula of the UBC School of Population and Public Health. "These findings are extremely useful because this information has not been available for us in Canada until now," she explained.

The study examined data from more than 220,000 Canadians who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2007 and 2012. Researchers found that gay and lesbian respondents were twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and mood disorders compared to their straight counterparts. However, bisexuals were twice as likely to suffer anxiety and mood disorders compared to gays and lesbians, making them four times at higher risk than heterosexuals.

"The highest rates of disorders were observed among bisexual respondents, with nearly quadruple the rates of anxiety, mood, and combined anxiety and mood disorders relative to heterosexuals and approximately twice the rates of gay or lesbian respondents," the researchers wrote.

It’s likely that these higher rates of mood disorders and substance use are related to “chronic stress” caused by homophobia and social exclusion. Bisexuals may be particularly at risk since they face exclusion from both the gay and straight communities. "There is growing evidence that being the target of micro-aggressions in the form of daily slurs or prejudiced comments can be psychologically damaging," said Pakula. "Bisexual people often face a double stigma from within heterosexual and gay or lesbian communities, and lack needed supports."

A 2015 study from the U.S. found that bisexual women tend to smoke more weed than straight or gay people, and researchers attributed this to biphobia, or the exclusion of bisexuals from both their gay and straight peers.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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