There are many reasons that people in the LGBTQ community struggle more with mental health and particularly anxiety. Every individual has their own unique challenges, but there are also a lot of commonalities that contribute to elevated anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Stigma is a big component of anxiety for LGBTQ individuals. While the world and attitudes are changing, stigma still exists. People in this community still face ridicule, rejection, discrimination, and even trauma and victimization.
The above, studies have shown, can lead to hypervigilance, a heightened and chronic state of being alert and at the ready. This, not surprisingly, can leave anyone feeling more anxious. People in this situation report feeling overwhelmingly afraid, fatigued, and anxious.
Another overarching explanation is something called minority stress. Anyone in any type of oppressed minority has an increased risk of all types of mental health issues, particularly stress and anxiety. At the foundation of minority stress are microagressions, prejudiced actions and statements, and discrimination.
At the most extreme end of minority stress is trauma. LGBTQ individuals who have experienced assault, threats, or other traumatic events are more likely to have anxiety as a result.
Sources of anxiety for LGBTQ people can be found everywhere, from personal, everyday experiences to political actions. One study of bathroom bills targeting transgender individuals found that LGBTQ participants had much more anxiety leading up to votes on these bills. That anxiety only found relief if the result of the vote retained their rights.
Many young people struggled more with mental health during the COVID pandemic. Those in the LGBTQ community suffered more, according to a survey. They were more likely to feel anxious and depressed because of the pandemic. Those affected the most were Black LGBTQ youth. Many also reported limited access to mental health care.