A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health reveals that young bisexual and questioning women are more prone to depression, anxiety and traumatic distress. The study also found that suicide ideation was highest among bisexual women.
While both male and female respondents experience similar problems, the researchers point out that the men did not show any significant risks for mental health symptoms during the screening. Bisexual women can experience problems that men may not experience.
The research team surveyed 2,513 individuals with ages 14 to 24 through Behavioural Health Screen. The participants were assessed for their anxiety, traumatic distress, suicide ideation and substance use, as well as their sexual preference.
Young bisexual and questioning women scored higher for depression, anxiety and traumatic distress scores than straight women. Together with these two groups, lesbians tended to think about suicide more frequently than straight women.
However, lesbian women were not at a higher risk for depression, anxiety and traumatic distress than straight women. This proves that same-sex attraction is not a risk for mental health problems, unlike previously thought.
Gay and bisexual men scored higher for anxiety, depression and traumatic stress than straight men. Gay males also scored significantly higher for anxiety than heterosexual males. Overall, bisexual men scored higher scores for suicide ideation than straight men.
Generally, bisexual or questioning men and women suffer the most because they get discriminated by other LGBT groups on top of getting discriminated by straight individuals. The researchers suggest increasing people’s sensitivity toward others whose sexual identity is different from them.
“I think the failure to include bisexual individuals in research studies reflects a larger culture of bisexual invisibility,” adds Annie Shearer, a research assistant with Drexel’s Family Intervention Science programme within the College of Nursing and Health Professions. “And with regard to questioning individuals, I think people assume that is a temporary identity, causing them to be overlooked, too. But during adolescence and young adulthood, when many individuals are still exploring their sexuality, it’s particularly important to include both the bisexual and questioning groups.”