Research

Concealing sexual orientation is connected to social phobia

Concealing one's sexual orientation is a coping strategy for stigma and threat due to minority status, but it comes at a cost.

By William Gibson, PhD

The January issue of Behavior Therapy presents the latest research on the connections between concealment of sexual orientation and anxiety and stress disorders. The work from Jeffrey Cohen and Christine Blasey from the PGSP – Stanford University PsyD Consortium, C. Barr Taylor and Brandon Weiss from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Michelle Newman from Pennsylvania State University demonstrates that issues of identity have relevance to mental health outcomes in ways that much of previous work misses. Past epidemiological studies of anxiety disorders have assessed sexual orientation primarily through behavior and not through measures of identity or attraction/desire. Comparing 157 sexual-minority-identified young adults to a matched sample of 157 heterosexual-identified young adults, the research found a significant difference in generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, PTSD, depression and panic disorder, with sexual minority-identified people reporting higher levels. Concealment, in particular, was significantly related to social phobia, including clinical levels of social phobia.

Reference

Cohen, J. M., Blasey, C., Taylor, C.B., Weiss, B. J., & Newman, M.G. (2016). Anxiety and related disorders and concealment in sexual minority young adults. Behavior Therapy, 47(1), 91-10. ISSN 0005-7894, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2015.09.006.