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High rate of depression in homosexuals blamed on “society,” not behavior

.- In a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from the Imperial College have noted a high rate of depression among homosexual and bisexual men and women, with almost a third of the 1,285 surveyed having attempted suicide. The study speculates that there is a “likely link” between mental illness and discrimination, a conclusion a leading UK mental health authority calls “simplistic.” The study, which the researchers claim is the first to examine the effect of discrimination on the mental health of homosexuals and bisexuals, found that 42% of the gay men, 43% of lesbians and 49% of bisexual men and women had a clinically recognised mental health problem.

Anxiety and sleep disturbance, panic attacks, depressive moods or thoughts, problems with memory or concentration, compulsive behaviour or obsessive thoughts, and self-harming were among the symptoms reported.

Of the respondents, 83% reported having experienced damage to property, personal attacks or verbal insults in the last five years, or insults and bullying at school. According to the study, many of the respondents attributed these experiences to discrimination against their sexuality.

"The results of this research show,” said James Warner, one of the psychiatrists at Imperial College who carried out the research, “that there is a likely link between levels of discrimination and an increased risk of mental health problems.”

"Discrimination can impact negatively on a person's mental health,” said Richard Brook, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, "but,” he warned, “we should be careful not to see it as a simplistic causal factor in predicting mental ill health."

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