Bisexual men who conceal at higher risk for depression

down low

In the first study to look at the mental health of bisexual men, researchers found that greater concealment of homosexual behaviors was linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

This study took a close look at bisexual men “on the down low,” a subgroup of bisexual men who live mostly heterosexual lives and hide their same-sex predilections. Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health studied 203 non-gay identified men who self-reported bisexual behavior but had not disclosed that behavior to their female sexual partners.

Characteristics of those who hide

They found that men who live with a wife or girlfriend, who think of themselves as heterosexual, and who have infrequent sex with men were more likely to hide their behavior. The more sex they had with their female partners, the more likely they were to conceal.

Further, men who made more than $30,000 a year also hid homosexual behavior more than those who made less. More than one-third said they never told anyone of their bisexual behavior, while 41 percent said they had told a friend or parent.

Identifying the men at risk

“Our research provides information on the factors that might contribute to greater concealment among this group of behaviorally bisexual men,” explained Eric Schrimshaw, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences. “Such information is critical to understanding which of these bisexual men may be at greatest risk for mental health problems.”

Greater concealment means greater depression and anxiety

Interestingly, disclosure of the homosexual behavior did not improve depression rates. “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,” said Karolynn Siegel, PhD, professor of sociomedical sciences.

“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.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, APA’s Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology


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