Life is stressful for just about any teenager — there’s homework, after-school activities, which all important social scene to juggle. But if you’re homosexual, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgender adolescent, teen-neighborhood gets even more challenging — and studies show it may be a huge contributor to depression.
What tends to make or break a homosexual teenager’s intimidating develop a hostile environment for the young LGBT youth,” says Loren A. Olson, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Des Moines, Iowa, and writer of Finally Outside: Letting Go of Living Straight.
Actually, a recent National School Climate Survey of 7,000 LGBT students, ranging in age from 13 to 21, found that 80 percent had been verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, 60 percent felt unsafe at school, and one in three had missed a day of school in the last month due to fear of violence.
Given these battles, it is no surprise a LGBT teen may experience depression. And getting help for depression is a must: Not only does research show that homosexual teenagers are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts, they become eight times more prone to try and kill themselves if their families have rejected them.
A Depression-Treatment Guide for Gay and Lesbian Teens
There are various avenues to explore to discover the right depression remedy. Consider these notions:
- Select a confidant. It may be a challenge to locate anyone to trust, but gay adolescents should attempt to contact a friendly adult, someone else going through an identical problem, or just an individual or group recognized to accept people for who they are.
- Find a safe haven. Some schools have gay-straight alliances to take good advantage of. Online, read the Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to ending suicide through advice plus a crisis hotline run 24/7 at 866 4 U TREVOR (866 488 7386).
- Chat with a physician or therapist. “This kind of support can be very useful in coming to terms with your melancholy and why you might be depressed,” says Russell Hyken, PhD, EdS, a therapist in St. Louis. “Being homosexual doesn’t automatically lead to depression,” he clarifies. “Being a teen is difficult overall. There could be other variables that lead to your depression.”
For Families and Friends of Gay Teens: How You Can Help
Relatives and friends can provide needed support for a loved one who may be depressed.
First, know things to try to find. “Warning signs incorporate a change in how a homosexual adolescent relates (they become withdrawn and isolated), how they appear (they may become unkempt, sad, or dispirited), or the way in which they act (they may give away prize properties, speak of attempting to expire, and/or participate in impulsive and dangerous behavior),” says Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York. “They may additionally drink or use drugs heavily. And when a teenager has a family member which has expired because of suicide or they’ve tried to kill themselves before, then there must be extra problem.”
Additionally, do not forget that it is natural for adolescents to have temporary changes in mood — changes that can result from a variety of stresses in their lives. The difference between teen angst and accurate clinical depression revolves round the duration of time the symptoms are present, how severe the depression is, and how much the teen has changed from who he or she usually is, says Dr. Olson.
Here’s what you need to do to help:
- Take him seriously. “Tell him that you understand how he is feeling and validate his feelings,” says Olson. “Offer support and listen, but don’t lecture. Avoid attributing him or yourself. Ask directly if there’s whatever you certainly can do to help.”
- Hold the lines of communication open. Don’t give up if the teen is not ready to speak, or reacts with hostility. Tell her that, if and when they wish to discuss anything, you are going to be there.
- Cheer on social activity. Help him find a bunch that acknowledges homosexuality and accepts people for who they are. When one area, for example school, is challenging, it might help to have another action, for example sport or a hobby, where there are no struggles.
- Instruct yourself. Consider joining a group like Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to learn more and get support yourself.
- Offer expectation. Remind the teen that, even if things look terrible now, they will get better.
- If necessary, get outside help. Always take melancholy and threats of suicide seriously.
Olson reminds adolescents to take a look at the bigger picture. “As a teen challenging your sexual orientation, you most likely feel different and alone,” he says. “Most of us who’ve been through it have felt that way, but you’re not alone and you’ll get through it. Depression ends.”
For inspiration, check out “It Gets Better,” a chain of personal narratives about how life has improved for many openly homosexual adults.