Gay, lesbian and bisexuals experience more anxiety disorders than others, and are more likely to turn to heavy drinking, according to a first of its kind study.
Researchers found that Canadians who were identified as bisexuals reported the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders and heavy drinking 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 from University of British Columbia in Canada.
The findings come from more than 220,000 Canadians who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2007 and 2012.
The study 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.
The findings can be used to plan and allocate resources for health services that better respond to the issues facing these groups, researchers said.
While this 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, they said.
“There is growing evidence that being the target of micro-aggressions in the form of daily slurs or prejudiced comments can be psychologically damaging. Bisexual people often face a double stigma from within heterosexual and gay or lesbian communities, and lack needed supports,” said Pakula.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.