From Pain to Pride: Treating Depression Within the LGBTQ+ Community

Written By: Eric Tirrell, TMS Clinic and Neuromodulation Research Operations Manager at Butler Hospital and Camilla Regalia, Sc.B. Candidate Neuroscience on June 27, 2022


BACKGROUND

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents6. Within those numbers, we see many LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) individuals suffering from mood-related symptoms, predominantly anxiety and depression.

DEPRESSION STATISTICS

In a 2017 survey, 28% of LGBTQ+ youth said they felt depressed most of the time in a 30-day period while only 12% of non-LGBTQ+ youth did. The percentage of depression amongst transgender youth encompassed within the LGBTQ+ label was as high as 40%5. LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth1.

RISK FACTORS

  • Stress/tension in relation to coming out
  • Bullying at school
  • Hostile/repressive environments
  • Discrimination and stigma concurrent use of drugs/alcohol and engaging in sexually risky behaviors
  • Experiencing abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual)
  • Lack of available LGBTQ+ support/resources
  • Family expulsion

THROUGH ADULTHOOD

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey, these trends continue throughout adulthood. Roughly 40 percent of transgender adults reported serious psychological distress in a month-long period as compared to the reported five percent of the US population2

SIGNS OF DEPRESSION

  • Sadness, easily tearful
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Difficulty functioning in everyday activities
  • Anger, irritability, or feelings of emptiness
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless
  • Low energy/motivation
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of not wanting to be alive.

SUPPORT

It is important that members of the LGBTQ+ community who seek help for their mental health needs have available resources and providers with knowledge of the adversities and insecurities individuals may face. There are psychiatric clinicians who specialize in the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ population with targeted group programs to help with those challenges while reducing stigma and without the fear of discrimination. Other situational factors such as residency in a state with more LGBTQ1 affirming environments can lead to LGBTQ+ youth being less likely to have attempted suicide.

RESILIENCE

Most LGBTQ+ individuals are incredibly resilient and with the help of supportive families, communities, and peers, will thrive in the face of adversity. One study even found that LGBTQ+ individuals used mental health services at a rate of 2.5 times higher than their heterosexual counterparts. One compassionate place for such exceptional mental health services and care is Butler Hospital, which has also achieved LGBTQ Blue Cross Blue Shield Safe Zone Designations—highlighting the hard work of Butler Hospital’s employees who have created and sustained a welcoming and positive environment for LGBTQ+ patients.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Treatment may include taking antidepressants or other psychiatric medications. Various forms of psychotherapy are also available, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). More recently, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has become a non-drug, non-invasive treatment option for treating depressive symptoms. Shortly after the FDA approval of TMS in 2008, the Butler TMS Clinic opened, and it has continued to help a growing number of patients for over a decade. TMS is available to people with moderate to severe cases of depression when standard interventions have not resulted in remission. TMS is thus a very important treatment alternative for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community suffering from depression.

TMS Clinic – Neuromodulation Research at Butler Hospital

The TMS Clinic at Butler Hospital can be reached at (401) 455-6632 for patients interested in these treatments. Butler Hospital is open to helping all individuals who struggle with depression. Particularly, those at the Butler Hospital TMS clinic are big advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and through this post, they would like to express their support and resources during pride month to all who may be in need.

We are here for you!

For any questions about our programs, or specific interest in the TMS Clinic at Butler Hospital, please contact (401) 455-6632. 

Learn More

 

References:

[1] https://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/bitstream/handle/2015/2960/Out_for_Change.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

[2] https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS-Full-Report-Dec17.pdf

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26287284/

[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007

[5] https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/LGBTQ_MentalHealth_OnePager.pdf

[6] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression

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