Queer women significantly more likely to experience depression during pregnancy, study finds

Queer women are significantly more likely to experience depression and stress during pregnancy, compared to their heterosexual counterparts, a new study has found. 

The 5 February SSM-Mental Health study discovered that lesbian, gay, bisexual or other sexual minority identity women in the US and Canada are 50 per cent more likely to experience mental health conditions during pregnancy

Researchers also found that the group, which also includes women who are attracted to women or have women partners, are less likely to take antidepressants during the postpartum period until their postnatal depression symptoms become severe. 

The study marks one of the first mental health discoveries across sexual orientation groups nationally, looking at pregnancy and postpartum data from the Nurses’ Health Study 3.

Ongoing research in the area is significant, as those in the queer community are undoubtedly affected by anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs, as well as legislation which attacks LGBTQ+ people. 

“Structural factors rooted in homophobia and transphobia underlie health inequities faced by LGBTQ individuals, subjecting them to unique forms of stigma and discrimination that adversely impact their health,” study co-author Brittany Charlton said.

“Research can help by suggesting innovative interventions focused on better care and better provider training,” she added.

In the UK, LGBTQ+ adults were found to be at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm, compared to their heterosexual counterparts. 

Those identifying as lesbian, gay and bisexual were more than twice as likely as straight people to experience suicidal thoughts or self-harm. 

The study, led by University College London (UCL) researchers and published in the international Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal, surveyed 10,443 people aged 16 and over in England and found an increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts among lesbian and gay adults compared to straight adults, as well as increased likelihood of self-harm among LGB adults. 

The survey also found that depression, anxiety and experiences of discrimination or bullying could contribute in part to these increased risks, with one in five lesbian or gay adults reporting that they had experienced homophobic discrimination within the past year.

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