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Sexual orientation and depression in Canada

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OBJECTIVES: Depression is a global concern and it is well known that certain segments of the population are at greater risk. Sexual minorities are recognized as being more likely to suffer from depression due to social stigma and prejudice. The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between sexual orientation and depression in the Canadian population.

METHODS: The study used the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey — Mental Health data. The sample comprised 24,788 Canadians living in the ten provinces. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the relationship of depression and sexual orientation.

RESULTS: After adjusting for known risk factors for depression, there was no difference in prevalence of past 12-month or lifetime major depressive episode between sexual minorities and heterosexuals. Bisexuals did have a near significant trend towards higher prevalence of both past 12-month and lifetime depression as a combined group, but there were not clear differences when stratified by sex.

CONCLUSION: This study supports important emerging trends in the relationship between sexual orientation and depression. Research on the mental health of sexual minority people must take into account differences between sexual minority groups and avoid aggregating mental health disorders into broad categories. These findings have implications for public health planning and clinical recommendations.


OBJECTIFS: La dépression est un problème mondial, et l’on sait que certains segments de la population y sont plus vulnérables. Les minorités sexuelles sont reconnues comme étant plus susceptibles de souffrir de dépression en raison de la stigmatisation sociale et des préjugés à leur endroit. Notre étude visait à décrire le lien entre l’orientation sexuelle et la dépression dans la population canadienne.

MÉTHODE: L’étude a fait appel aux données sur la santé mentale de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes de 2012.

L’échantillon comprenait 24 788 Canadiens vivant dans les 10 provinces. Des analyses de régression logistique ont servi à examiner la relation entre la dépression et l’orientation sexuelle.

RÉSULTATS: Après avoir tenu compte des facteurs de risque connus de la dépression, il n’y avait aucune différence dans la prévalence des accès dépressifs majeurs au cours des 12 mois antérieurs ou au cours de la vie entre les minorités sexuelles et la population hétérosexuelle. Les personnes bisexuelles, en tant que groupe combiné, présentaient bien une tendance quasi significative de prévalence accrue de dépression au cours des 12 mois antérieurs et au cours de la vie, mais il n’y avait pas de différence claire lorsque les données étaient stratifiées selon le sexe.

CONCLUSION: Notre étude appuie d’importantes tendances émergentes en ce qui a trait au lien entre l’orientation sexuelle et la dépression. La recherche sur la santé mentale des minorités sexuelles doit tenir compte des différences entre les minorités sexuelles et éviter de regrouper les troubles de santé mentale en grandes catégories. Ces constatations ont des conséquences pour la planification en santé publique et pour les recommandations cliniques.

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Correspondence to Roger L. Scott PhD, NP.

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Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge Statistics Canada Research Data Centre, University of Alberta, for their assistance with data access and vetting results for release.

Conflict of Interest: None to declare.

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Scott, R.L., Lasiuk, G. & Norris, C.M. Sexual orientation and depression in Canada. Can J Public Health 107, e545–e549 (2016).

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