Health Mental health What is depression? “Depression was one of the worst experiences of my life, but talking about it helped me overcome it. I'm now a happy and healthy gay woman about to get married. It may seem impossible but the challenges we face as LGBTQ+ people can be won.” Depression can be a common mood disorder for LGBTQ+ people which can affect your ability to function day-to-day. Many LGBTQ+ people feel low at some point in our lives, and most of this time our mood improves again fairly quickly. But for many LGBTQ+ people experiencing depression, bouts of low mood keep coming back, and sometimes don’t go away for weeks or months at a time. How common is it? Depression is more likely for LGBTQ+ people. Gay and bisexual men are twice as likely to experience depression than their straight counterparts. Rates of depression are higher among lesbians and bisexual women, and trans people are even higher! Some studies suggest that over 80% of trans people have experienced depression. If you are Black, Asian or of a minority ethnic background and LGBTQ+ the rates increase even further. Yeah, we know! In short growing up LGBTQ+ can suck at times but know this if you are LGBTQ+ and experiencing depression you’re definitely not alone. The severity of depression varies from LGBTQ+ person to person. Mild depression may not drastically interfere with your life, but instead stop you enjoying activities you once enjoyed. Someone experiencing severe depression, on the other hand may experience extreme mental distress and suicidal thoughts which prevents you from doing everyday activities such as getting out of bed and even leaving the house. Signs and symptoms you need to look out for. There are some key symptoms which most people who experience depression experience, such as low mood. But each case is individual, and not all LGBTQ+ people and non LGBTQ+ people with depression will show all these symptoms: Low mood Poor self esteem Over or under-sleeping Under or over-eating Persistent tiredness Lack of energy (lethargy) Difficulty concentrating Lack of enjoyment (anhedonia) Moving or speaking slowly Withdrawal from social situations Cyclical thoughts Feeling of hopelessness Suicidal thoughts What causes it? There are many potential causes for depression. For LGBTQ+ people, it’s suspected that the difficulties we face: discrimination, prejudice, unequal healthcare, hard childhoods and/or the fear of rejection of loved ones all contribute to our increased risk of experiencing depression. But other issues on top of LGBTQ+ issues can cause it such as; the loss of a loved one, the end of relationship, rejection, family and friendship issues, or other chronic illnesses can all be triggers. In other words, it’s often hard to identify the one cause, and it may seem like there is no cause at all. You may experience depression because how how being LGBTQ+ plays on your life. You may experience depression for other reasons which has nothing to do with your sexuality. It's more likely LGBTQ+ people experience depression because of a mixture of sexuality issues and life experiences all in one. Yes, we know! We are dealt a hard card in life. But it does not always ends in negativity. If you are experiencing depression they are many LGBTQ+ organisations that can help. What Next? Support Mind Out, the LGBTQ+ mental health service, offers a variety of support via its website. If you’d prefer to speak to an LGBTQ+ person on the phone, then Switchboard’s volunteers are also there to listen on its dedicated helpline. Extra Reading Mind, the mental health charity, has an excellent online information about depression and its effects. They have also produced this handy summary about LGBTQ+ mental health.