Depression and addiction common among young transgender women

Posted on March 22, 2016 by Addiction Editor

Depression addictionMental health issues like depression and addiction are more common among young transgender women than the general U.S. population, according to a new study.

While the study can’t say why this was true, the researchers say the results highlight the need for culturally competent treatment and care.

“There is a critical need for skilled and well-informed mental health professionals,” said Sari Reisner, the study’s lead author from Boston Children’s Hospital.

The researchers write in JAMA Pediatrics that mental health issues and addiction affect 4 to 26 percent of people in the U.S. Often, those issues emerge during adolescence and young adulthood.

For the new study, the researchers interviewed 300 transgender women in Boston and Chicago between 2012 and 2015. The participants, who ranged in age from 16 to 29, were sexually active and were participating in an HIV prevention study.

Overall, about 42 percent had one or more health or addiction diagnoses. About one in five had two or more diagnoses.

Rates of diagnoses among the participants were about two to four times greater than in the general U.S. population, write the researchers.

About a third of participants had been depressed at some point, and about 15 percent currently had the condition. About one in five participants reported suicidal thoughts within the past 30 days.

Within the last six months, about 8 percent of participants had anxiety and about one in 10 had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

About 11 percent reported alcohol dependence in the past year. Likewise, about 15 percent reported some other kind of addiction during that time.

The likelihood of mental health and addiction issues appeared to increase with age.

That finding, coupled with a smaller lifetime prevalence of depression than what’s been seen in previous studies in older transgender women, suggests there is an opportunity to prevent poor outcomes.

The new results do not show that transgender women are inherently predisposed to mental health issues, Reisner told Reuters Health. To read more click here.

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