Discriminating a person due to their sexual orientation plays a major role in the number of mental disorders, both mild and severe, experienced by members of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that 2.3 percent of people in the United States are gay or bisexual, many of which suffer from severe anxiety or are prone to binge drinking.
CDC researchers surveyed 34,557 Americans 18 and older as part of the National Health Interview Survey. In the 57th year of the nationwide survey, this is the first time sexual orientation was featured among the list of questions. Health-related behaviors, health status, health care service utilization, and health care access were compared among U.S. adults between 18 and 64 who identified as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Results showed that 96.6 percent of Americans identified as straight, while 1.6 percent reported they were gay and 0.7 percent said they were bisexual. The remaining one percent of the survey respondents who declined to answer for their sexual orientation, reported they did not know, or were “something else,” Reuters reported. Although gay and bisexual respondents were just as likely to report healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, HIV testing, and flu vaccinations, their mental health status varied compared to their straight counterparts.
Fifty-two percent of gay men admitted to having five or more drinks in one night during the past year, while only 31 percent of straight men reported this binge drinking behavior. Bisexual women, who accounted for 0.9 percent of the U.S. female population, were twice as likely to report suffering from severe bouts of anxiety compared to any other group included in the survey. Eleven percent of women who were attracted to both sexes also recalled feeling distressed in the past month.
According to the American Psychological Association, a string of recent studies analyzing the mental health status of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people compared to their straight peers has revealed that gay men suffer from higher rates of recurrent major depression compared to any other group. People between the age of 15 and 54 with same-sex partners are also more likely to report anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
Source: Ward B, Dahlhamer J, Galinsky A, Joestl S. Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013. National Health Statistics Reports. 2014.