New Canadian research has found that gay, lesbian and bisexuals report higher rates of mental health issues and are significantly more likely to abuse alcohol than others.
The research, conducted at the University of British Columbia, also revealed that those who identified as bisexual were most likely to report suffering mood and anxiety disorders as well as heavy drinking.
"Members of sexual minority groups in Canada, in particular those self-identifying as bisexual, experience disproportionate rates of anxiety and mood disorders, heavy drinking, and co-occurring disorders," the study authors wrote.
"Often gay, lesbian and bisexual people are grouped together in studies, but we found there are important differences in their reported health," said lead researcher Basia Pakula of the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health.
"These findings are extremely useful because this information has not been available for us in Canada until now," Pakula explained.
The latest study involved data from more than 220,000 Canadians participating in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2007 and 2012.
Study results revealed that gay and lesbian Canadians were twice as likely to suffer anxiety and mood disorders compared to their heterosexual counterparts. However, bisexual Canadians were twice as likely to suffer anxiety and mood disorders compared to gays and lesbians, making them four times more likely than heterosexuals to report anxiety and mood issues.
"Gay or lesbian and bisexual respondents had greater odds than heterosexuals of reporting co-occurring anxiety or mood disorders and heavy drinking. The highest rates of disorders were observed among bisexual respondents, with nearly quadruple the rates of anxiety, mood, and combined anxiety and mood disorders relative to heterosexuals and approximately twice the rates of gay or lesbian respondents," researchers wrote in the study.
One way to interpret the findings could be that the chronic stress experienced by gay, lesbian and bisexual people has something to do with societal prejudice or stigma.
"There is growing evidence that being the target of micro-aggressions in the form of daily slurs or prejudiced comments can be psychologically damaging," Pakula said. "Bisexual people often face a double stigma from within heterosexual and gay or lesbian communities, and lack needed supports."
The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Public Health.