Major depression—also known as clinical depression—is a serious but common medical condition that affects gay men and lesbians at a higher rate than the general population. A number of factors may contribute to this, from living in an often homophobic society to facing family rejection to being closeted in some or all aspects of life.
Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Depressed mood most of the day;
- Markedly decreased interest in activities most of the day;
- Decrease or increase in appetite;
- Decrease or increase in sleep;
- Fatigue or loss of energy;
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt; and
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Depression treatment usually includes a thorough evaluation, patient education, and self-help instructions, individual or group talk therapy and, when appropriate, the prescription of anti-depressant medications. Treatment should begin with a thorough evaluation to rule out an underlying medical condition or the side effect of medications as the cause of the depression symptoms
Two specific types of psychotherapy have been proven effective in treating depression: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). Steps often recommended to help combat depression include setting realistic goals, breaking tasks into small pieces, spending time with others, being physically active, avoiding drugs and alcohol consumption, being patient about the rate of improvement, and avoiding making major life decisions.
Several different classes of prescription medication are available to treat depression. These medications are prescribed by a licensed professional after careful consultation with the individual patient. They need to be taken exactly as prescribed.
If you’re unsure where to go for help, ask your primary care physician, internist, OB/GYN or health clinic for assistance. You can also check the Yellow Pages or Internet listings under such subjects as mental health, social services, suicide prevention, hospitals or physicians.
GLMA additionally has an online referrals resource you can search immediately by clicking here. Many treatment options exist to help you find the right answers.
Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
National Foundation for Depressive Illness
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
American Psychiatric Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration