LGBTQ and PTSD

  

This page is written in specific devotion to all my friends who either are part of, or support the LGBTQ community. 



“ As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has- or ever will have- something inside that is unique to all time. Its our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression” ( Fred Rogers )



June is Pride month, but it also marks PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th. The national day was originally proposed by Congress in 2010- and later turned into a entire awareness month in 2014- to recognize the trauma veterans endure from having served in the military, but trauma isn’t limited to the conditions of war. Sometimes, experiencing severe social inequality is enough to develop trauma early on in life, just as being on the receiving end of military attacks as a civilian can permanently affect someone. However, you don’t have to go to a war zone to endure trauma. Someone who is queer and / or transgender living in the United States can become a victim of PTSD.


Post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD )-formerly known as shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome is characterized as an anxiety disorder that is triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. While much of research about PTSD centers around combat veterans, the medical condition also affects survivors of physical violence, childhood abuse, natural disasters, accidents, life threatening illnesses, and more. Especially in todays political climate, many queer and / or transgender individuals are increasingly subjected to harassment and violence, which can possibly manifest into emotional trauma and other mental health issues.


PTSD has lifelong consequences on mental and emotional health, including hallucinations, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, trouble falling or staying asleep, intimacy issues, irritability and more. 


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals who report a history of increasing or high levels of victimization are at increased risk for major depressive disorder and PTSD, a longitudinal study shows.


Results from the study by the American Journal of Public Health, which is still ongoing, show that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) are at higher risk for other mental disorders such as anxiety and suicide, than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Further, a history of harassment, victimization, or discrimination, proved a predictor of mental health disorders.


The researches, led by Brian Mustanski Ph.d sought t understand the trajectories of victimization and how they affect the development of depression and PTSD in LGBT in youth.

Foundation funded the study.


The NAMI ( National Alliance for Mental Illness ) stresses that if you live with a mental health condition and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and / or questioning ( LGBTQ ), its important to prioritize your mental health. Not all members of the LGBTQ community will have the same experiences. However, discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil and human rights, harassment and family rejection are still tragically common for these individuals. 


LGBTQ individuals with mental health conditions may also find themselves fighting a double stigma. Many will experience prejudice based on their sexual and / or gender identity as well as the stigma of mental illness.


Early intervention, comprehensive treatment, and family support are key to helping LGBTQ individuals live well with a mental health condition. But many people in this community struggle in silence-and face worse health outcomes as a result.


We all need to do better to support this community, and unfortunately we don’t have all the answers other than the underlying knowledge that where there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness ( a quote by Lucius Annaeus Seneca ). What this means is that we are all human beings, entirely equal and worthy of love and respect from one another, and with respect to the diversity that makes each one of us unique creation to this world, and a gift from our Higher Power to help one another.


Helpful Resources


www.algbtic.org       The Association or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counselling-delivers educational and support resources fir LGBTQ individuals, as well as promoting competency on LGBTQ issues for counseling professionals.


www.aglp.org        The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists-offers numerous resources for LGBT individuals experiencing mental health conditions and psychiatric professionals with LGBT clients.


www.transequality.org        offers resources for transgender individuals, including information on the right to access health care

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www.thetrevorproject.org      a support network for LGBTQ youth providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention, including a 24-hour text line ( Text “START” to 678678 ).


www.glma.org          a search tool that can locate a LGBTQ-inclusive health care provider.


www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org         offers confidential peer support connections for LGBT youth, adults, and seniors including phone, text and online chat.

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