From Psychology Today…
It’s well known to the point of stereotype that gay men experience higher rates of HIV, substance abuse, and suicide. But it’s less known, and hardly talked about, that we also have much higher rates of depression, especially those of us living with HIV, despite the causal relationship of depression and self-medicating and self-harming behavior.
You might call depression the big gray elephant in the room staring us in the face as we do our best to ignore it.
The 2013 fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) defines depression clinically as a depressive mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities over a two-week period, along with four of these symptoms: “changes in appetite or weight, sleep, and psychomotor activity; decreased energy; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions; or recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or suicide plans or attempts.”
Although depression affects both men and women, men kill themselves at rates four times higher than women. Of the 41,149 suicides in the U.S. in 2013, nearly 80 percent were men.
An American study of gay men found that those who perceived increased homophobia and danger were more likely to report depressive symptoms. Feeling unaccepted and rejected by the gay community—as do too many gay and bisexual men of color and those living with HIV—were also found to increase the risk for depression.