Higher Risk of PTSD for LGBT Community, especially younger kids and adults… News from Harvard schools, offices, and affiliates
“We looked at a group of people who are at the cusp of adulthood and found much higher levels of PTSD in sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals. We found that differences in PTSD by sexual orientation already exist by age 22. This is a critical point at which young adults are trying to finish college, establish careers, get jobs, maintain relationships, and establish a family,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in HSPH’sDepartment of Society, Human Development, and Health. Previous studies by Roberts and her colleagues identified more PTSD symptoms in a group of sexual minorities aged 40-60. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, “mostly heterosexuals,” and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner were found to be one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing PTSD as a consequence. (See 2010 HSPH press release.)
The research appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Traumatic events like active combat, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, or unexpected death of a loved one can lead to PTSD, a mental illness which is characterized by distressing memories of the traumatic event, avoidance of objects, places, or people associated with the event, emotional numbing and an increased sense of vigilance. PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated. The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4% for men and 10% for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled – over 9% for men and 20% for women.”
I have great empathy and compassion for the often emotional challenges connected with the gay community. One of my closest life-long dear friends is a gay man, who survived the tragic early circumstances of HIV in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My friend, Jon, has lived through more painful and tragic trauma for decades than most. The worst part of his traumatic experience is to watch the slow and painful death of so many loved ones in his life. I have been through most of this with him as a loving and devoted battle buddy at work and as close friends. When there are tough times, I listen mostly with a loving and caring heart. In good times there is so much joy and fun times with Jon, who also worked with me as an outstanding colleague during my career. He has a heart as large as the moon, a work ethic that sets an example for the best of us, Jon models the best in all of us along with unmatched resilience to overcome the worst of emotional challenges. I love Jon as my brother, best friend, and colleague who has always been there for me and my family as we journey through life together.
I will address the LGBT community post-trauma stress topic in a most healing and loving way in my new workbook project, “I Worry About the Kids” to be published during the summer of 2016.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.