MONTREAL, CANADA — A new study on the relationship between anxiety and sexual identity reveals that straight men are more likely to suffer from depression and elevated levels of stress than either gay or bisexual men.
The study, conducted by researchers at McGill University, was conducted in order to determine how gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals reacted to the stresses of “coming out,” and if that experience led to a reduction in the levels of anxiety.
The study group included close to 90 men and women who were asked to fill out a comprehensive survey about anxiety, burnout, and depression. To measure their levels of the stress hormone cortisol, the subjects were also administered saliva, urine, and blood tests.
The study authors—whose findings were published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine—say they expected to learn that gays who had come out to family, friends, and co-workers exhibited fewer instances of depression that those who were still closeted.
What surprised them was the finding that heterosexual men exhibit elevated allostatic loads, or overall systemic stress, at levels higher than all other groups. On the index of allostatic load levels, straight men were found to have levels of a third higher than gay or bi men.
“Contrary to our hypothesis, gay and bisexual men had significantly lower depressive symptoms and allostatic load levels than heterosexual men,” the study’s lead author, Robert-Paul Juster, wrote.