Major Mental Illness in a Sexual Minority Psychiatric Sample

  • Ronald E. Hellman
  • Lori Sudderth
  • Anna M. Avery


Objectives: In this study, the authors compare a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sample in treatment for major psychiatric disorders with a general psychiatric population sample. Methods: Participants were interviewed utilizing a multi-item, multiple-choice questionnaire with some open-ended questions. Study participants were categorized by biological sex at birth and sexual identity. Parameters assessed included age of symptom onset, number of inpatient admissions, and primary psychiatric diagnosis. Results: No difference was found for mean age of first symptom onset between LGBT and control males or for LGBT and control females. There was no difference in rates of psychiatric hospitalization between LGBT and control participants. LGBT males had lower rates of psychotic disorders, except for schizoaffective disorder, and higher rates of mood disorders than control males. There was no significant difference in rates of psychiatric disorders between LGBT and control females. Conclusions: For those in treatment for major mental illness, sexual identity may be an important variable associated with differential rates of serious psychiatric disorders and/or mental health service utilization. No significant difference in age of onset or number of hospital admissions was observed. Limitations in sample size and the study design warrant further research to confirm these findings.

age of onset anxiety bipolar disorder bisexual depression manic-depressive disorder Schizoaffective disorder 


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Copyright information

© Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald E. Hellman
    • 1
  • Lori Sudderth
    • 2
  • Anna M. Avery
    • 3
  1. 1.LesBiGay and Transgender Affirmative ProgramSouth Beach Psychiatric CenterBrooklyn
  2. 2.Department of SociologyQuinnipiac UniversityHamden
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatrySt. Luke's-Roosevelt HospitalNew York

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