Feeling depressed seems to be the order of the day as studies are finding mental health is worse for gays and lesbians when compared to the wider community.
A beyondblue report, Feeling Queer and Blue, found that gay, lesbian and bisexual people have “higher rates of depression, more depressive symptoms, and poorer mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual people when compared with heterosexual people”. The report agrees with other research on mental health that says conditions like depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and suicide are more common in the gay and lesbian community.
Perhaps this isn’t so much a surprise. Being gay ain’t easy. Coming out can involve a great deal of stress as family bonds are tested. Alcohol abuse, crystal meth and the over-usage of other drugs have been ongoing issues for the gay and lesbian community for a while now.
Homophobia is still rife in society. It’s no wonder that with these kinds of stresses gay and lesbian people are getting depressed at higher rates.
Whatever the cause of depression may be, there is still the question as to what can be done. On an individual level and as a community depression has its costs. Relationships and employment suffer. Suicide can become a real risk. To begin to deal with depression means we need to start getting clear about what it is we are dealing with. We need to understand depression.
Depression isn’t just about your mood. For sure, being sad or feeling down is part of it, but there is more to it than that. Depression also involves physical and mental symptoms. It can affect your weight — losing your appetite or putting on weight can both be signs of depression.
Changes to sleeping patterns are another common symptom. Doing daily activities become more difficult as people with depression find themselves drained of energy and without motivation. Clear thinking also tends to dissolve. This can making problem-solving difficult and mean that professional help is required.
It takes a personal commitment to recover from depression, one where support from partners, friends and family plays a large part.
As a community, coming to understanding depression, its effect on our lives and the treatments available is for many people to reconnect with happiness and mental healthiness. And given the higher rates of depression, it looks like this should be high on the agenda for a healthy community.
info: During Mental Health Week, Carers NSW, ACON and GLCS will be holding forums on Depression and Recovery. On Wednesday October 7, the forum is on Wellbeing and on Thursday October 8, the forum is on Depression. Both forums start at 6.30pm and are at the Rex Centre, 58A Macleay St, Kings Cross.
For more information please contact David on 9289 4249 or email him at email@example.com