Study: Anxiety And Depression Higher In Men Who Are 'On The Down Low'

In the first study of its kind in this specific patient population, researchers from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found higher rates of anxiety and depression among bisexual men who conceal their homosexual behavior and who aren't as likely to disclose their sexuality compared to openly gay men.

The findings appear in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Being 'On The Down Low' Affects Mental Health

The population of men looked at in this study are those bisexual men who are, according to the terminology, "on the down low," meaning that they are bisexual but live heterosexual lives and tell no one of their homosexual behavior.

Columbia researchers surveyed more than 200 nongay-identified males in New York City who self-reported being behaviorally bisexual but who had not told their female partners about their homosexual behavior.

Said Eric Schrimshaw, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences and the study's lead author:

"Our research provides information on the factors that might contribute to greater concealment among this group of behaviorally bisexual men. Such information is critical to understanding which of these bisexual men may be at greatest risk for mental health problems."

About 40 percent of the men said they hadn't told anybody about their bisexual behaviors, while another 40 percent said they told only one other person.

The greater the concealment, according to researchers, the greater the symptoms of depression and anxiety—and the lower the positive emotions experienced. Unfortunately, in confiding to close friends or family, men did not get any relief from this; rather it contributed to their depression and anxiety.

Acceptance More Important Than 'Coming Out'

Co-author Karolynn Siegel, PhD, professor of Sociomedical Sciences, said:

"The fact that concealment, but not disclosure, was associated with the mental health of these bisexual men is critically important for the way therapeutic interventions are conducted in this population. Although disclosure may result in acceptance from family and friends, in other cases -- particularly with female partners -- disclosure may also result in rejecting reactions, which are adversely associated with mental health."

The research suggests that disclosure among these men does not necessarily mean improved mental health unless they have the psychosocial and familial support around them to cope with it.

They suggest that mental health professionals work less on getting these men to disclose their behaviors and work more on helping them accept their sexual behaviors and orientation.

Source: MNT
Photo: Pixabay

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