Identifying and Treating Depression in the LGBTQ+ Community


If you suffer from depression, you are not alone. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S., affecting an estimated 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents6, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. LGBTQ+ individuals are especially hard it - suffering from mood-related symptoms (predominantly anxiety) and depression. 


By the Numbers

In a 2017 survey, 28% of LGBTQ+ youth said they felt depressed most of the time in a 30-day period, compared to only 12% of non-LGBTQ+ youth.    To take it a bit further, the percentage of depression amongst transgender youth was as high as 40%5.  What’s worse, LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth1


Risk Factors for the LGBTQ+ Youth 

There are many risk factors that can contribute to depression and anxiety in LGBTQ+ youth, including:

• Stress/tension in relation to coming out.

• Bullying at school.

• Hostile/repressive environments.

• Discrimination and stigma along with the use of drugs/alcohol and engaging in sexually risky behaviors.

• Experiencing abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual).

• Lack of available LGBTQ+ support/resources.

• Family expulsion.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey, these trends continue in adulthood. Roughly 40% of transgender adults reported serious psychological distress in a month-long period, compared to the reported 5% of the U.S. population2.


Signs and Symptoms of Depression4

There are some signs to look out for that may signal an LGBTQ+ youth is suffering from depression, including:

• Sadness or easily tearful

• Sleep disturbances

• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities

• Difficulty functioning in everyday activities

• Anger, irritability, or feelings of emptiness

• Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness

• Feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless

• Low energy/motivation

• Trouble thinking, concentrating, or making decisions

• Thoughts of not wanting to be alive.


Finding a Support System

It is important that members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking mental health help have available resources and providers with knowledge of the adversities and insecurities these individuals may face.  There are psychiatric clinicians who specialize in the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ population with targeted group programs to help with those challenges while reducing stigma and without fear of discrimination. Other situational factors such as residency in a state with more LGBTQ-affirming environments can lead to LGBTQ+ youth being less likely to have attempted suicide.

Most LGBTQ+ individuals are incredibly resilient.  With the help of supportive families, communities, and peers, they will thrive in the face of adversity. One study even found that LGBTQ+ individuals used mental health services at a rate of 2.5 times higher than their heterosexual counterparts.


Treatment Options

One compassionate place for such exceptional mental health services and care is Butler Hospital, which has achieved LGBTQ Blue Cross Blue Shield Safe Zone Designations.  This highlights the hard work of Butler Hospital’s employees who have created and sustained a welcoming and positive environment for LGBTQ+ patients.

Treatment can come in many forms.  It may include taking antidepressants or other psychiatric medications. Various forms of psychotherapy are also available, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).


What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has become a non-drug, non-invasive treatment option for treating depressive symptoms. Shortly after the FDA approval of TMS in 2008, the Butler TMS Clinic opened, and it has continued to help a growing number of patients for more than a decade. TMS is available to people with moderate to severe cases of depression when standard interventions have not resulted in remission. TMS can be a very important treatment alternative for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community suffering from depression.

Butler Hospital is open to helping all individuals who struggle with depression. Those at the Butler Hospital TMS clinic are big advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and through this article, they would like to express their support and resources to all who may need it this Pride Month, and always.

For more information about the TMS Clinic at Butler Hospital, please visit


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