Growing pains

Queer teens twice as likely to have major depression as straight teens

Depression is a very real problem for many LGBTQ youth (Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash)

A new study has found that although depression among heterosexual teens has fallen slightly over the last few years, gay, bi and queer teens continue to be twice as likely to experience depression.

It also found those teens who said they’d been in a same-sex relationship, showed a slight increase in reporting depression over recent years.

Related: Colton Haynes opens up about his battle with depression

The study analyzed US data from 1999 through to 2017. It found rates of depression for heterosexual teens fell rates fell from 29.3% in 1999 to 23.7% in 2017.

Over the same period, depression rates for gay, lesbian and bi teens remained approximately the same (from 51.4% to 51.9%).

Of the queer teens who said they’d actually been in a same-sex relationship, 48.7% of respondents in 1999 said they’d experienced depression. This rose to 53.8% in 2017.

The analysis was carried out by researchers at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. It was published in JAMA Pediatrics. It used data from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

It should be noted that its observation of depression among straight kids falling over the last 18 years goes against other studies: A 2017 Pew Research Center poll found that found 13% of teens reported depression – up from 8% in 2007. Other studies have looked at links between social media use and rising depression rates.

Related: Tennessee teen dies by suicide after classmates out him on Instagram

However, this study’s findings relating to LGB youth are all too familiar.

It has long been known queer youth are significantly more likely to experience depression and other mental health conditions than their heterosexual counterparts.

Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics last year, which drew upon 35 other studies, concluded that LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to attempt to kill themselves.

Meanwhile, a UK study found that “LGBQ young people were found to be four times more likely to self-harm with suicidal intent than heterosexuals.”

In this latest study, which covered an 18-year time period, participants were asked, “During the past 12 months, did you ever feel so sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 weeks or more in a row that you stopped doing some usual activities?”

The Rhode Island authors concluded, “Despite decades of research on treatment for adolescent depression, sexual minority youths remain a particularly at-risk group.”