Everyone suffers from anxiety at some point in their life. It happens for different reasons and at varying levels of intensity. But for the LGBT community, many of us experience anxiety that’s specifically related to our sexuality. We experience a level of emotional discomfort that’s unique and, in many cases, can have detrimental effects. The good news is that there’s always help to get you through your anxiety. For many people, before they seek help, they want to identity what you’re dealing with. Please know that a trained therapist can help you figure out what the problem is as well as possible solutions.
Officially, the Pride Institute defines anxiety as the “combination of physical and emotional symptoms that can cause an unpleasant level of distress”. Anxiety often comes in brief waves and the occasional occurrence is pretty normal. However, general anxiety can elevate to a panic attack which is a very uncomfortable and scary situation, to say the least. If you find yourself suffering from any of these issues, it’s a sign that you need to seek help. Although you might be able to live forever with this, why not try to get help and reduce/eliminate symptoms.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, and increased perspiration. The emotional symptoms include but aren’t limited to fear, worry, panic, paranoia, and a sudden urge to avoid a place, situation, or person.
Unlike anxiety that might be triggered by work stress, finances, or relationship strain, there are some additional internal and external triggers for LGBT people.
Threats and discrimination are a major cause of anxiety. This includes threats of physical violence or even subtler instances. Gay people are often subject to threats from strangers or even loved ones. This creates anxiety for everyday activities like going to the grocery store, the gym, or school. Discrimination also causes anxiety. There’s a fear about not having access to certain services or experiences because of our sexuality. Hearing stories of discrimination only adds to it.
But it isn’t always the external threats that cause a rise in our anxiety. Our own feelings can contribute, too. Whether it’s internalized homophobia, stress from deciding when to come out, or pure confusion, a failure to process internal problems can lead to a significant increase in the level of anxiety. And this isn’t just personal anxiety. Discomfort with ourselves can lead to social anxiety as well.
For bisexual and transgender people, the anxiety can be even worse. These two groups are perhaps the most misunderstood groups in the LGBT community. They constantly face confusion and discrimination from gay and straight people. Once they’ve come out, they have to constantly fear a lack of acceptance among everyone they encounter. They’re often thinking about whether or not they’ll be welcomed every single time they enter a room or reveal who they are. That can make everyday life a truly stressful affair.
The most important ways to fight off anxiety are to snuff negative thoughts, practice self-love, and seek help from a trained professional if you feel your anxiety is serious, or if you simply want support from an ally who is trained to help. For LGBT people, we have to encounter the normal anxiety triggers combined with our own unique set of emotional dangers. While it can be daunting to think about and experience, we can overcome them with the right mindset and assistance. Please do not hesitate to call me to set up an appointment.