A third of LGBT youth suffer mental disorders

Dec 01, 2010

One-third of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth have attempted suicide in their lifetime -- a prevalence comparable to urban, minority youth -- but a majority do not experience mental illness, according to a report by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study, published online and in the December issue of the , is the first to report the frequency of in LGBT youth using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Previous studies have relied on questionnaire-type surveys which, the authors suggest, may overestimate mental disorders in certain groups.

The UIC researchers recruited 246 ethnically diverse 16- to 20-year-old LGBT youth in Chicago and conducted structured psychiatric interviews to assess , post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide attempts, and conduct disorder.

While a third of participants did meet criteria for at least one of the mental health disorders, about 70 percent of LGBT youth did not meet criteria for any mental disorders.

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"One of the most important findings from our work is that most of these youth are doing very well and are not experiencing ," said Dr. Brian Mustanski, assistant professor of psychiatry at UIC and lead author of the study.

Nearly 10 percent of study participants met criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and about 15 percent met criteria for major depression. A third had made a suicide attempt at some point in their life, and about 6 percent had made a suicide attempt in the last year.

"The big question is, are these youth more likely to have mental disorders relative to other kids?," said Mustanski, a clinical psychologist and director of UIC's IMPACT Program. "And the answer to that is that it really depends on who you're comparing them to."

LGBT youths in the study had a higher prevalence of mental disorders than youths in national samples, but were similar to other samples of urban, racial and ethnic minority youths.

The researchers also looked at differences between sub-groups of LGBT youth to determine if bisexual youth tend to have more mental health problems than gay and lesbian youth, or if racial-minority youth experience more mental health problems than white youth.

Contrary to previous research that suggested that bisexual youth are more likely to have mental disorders than other groups, Mustanski found just the opposite. Bisexual youths had a lower prevalence of mental disorders compared with others in the study.

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User comments : 4

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alec123456789
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2010
"transgender youth" ?!

geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2010
Depression can be wiped off the face of the planet tomorrow. All it takes is to declare that depression is no longer a mental disorder. This is exactly how the psychiatric profession just cured the president of the United States, by declaring that narcissism is no longer be a mental disorder.
PatrickPlan8
not rated yet Dec 01, 2010
Having a title like "A third of LGBT youth suffer mental disorders" might come across a little sensationalist and you might want to rephrase / craft it a little better because it can seriously be taken out of context.
ab3a
not rated yet Dec 02, 2010
A third of LGBT youth? As compared to what number of "ordinary" youth? Context would be helpful here.

Furthermore, it wouldn't be surprising to discover that, at an age of self discovery, those who realize that they are different might be more depressed than those who practically sleepwalk through life. It reminds me of an essay by Woody Allen where a hero is tasked with finding the happiest people on earth and then discovers that they're dumb as sheep.