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Coming Out To Peers Lowers The Risk Of Depression In LGBT Youth

First Posted: Feb 11, 2015 03:56 PM EST
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Certain stigmas still surround some sexual preferences, which might explain why lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens aren't always so open when it comes to this topic of conversation. 

Yet new findings published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry show that teens who do come out to peers have better mental health as young adults than those who wait.

For the study, researchers examined data from a San Francisco State University survey of 245 Hispanic and white LGBT young adults between the ages of 21 and 25.

Findings revealed that those who were open about their sexual preference were more likely to have higher self-esteem in school and more overall satisfaction with their lives. Teens who hid their status were more likely to be depressed as young adults.

"The thing that's encouraging is that we've found being out is good for you," study leader Stephen Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Arizona, said via Health Day. "This is clearly aligned with everything we know about identity. Being able to be who we are is crucial to mental health."

While some adults may believe that non-disclosure helps protect teens from discrimination, researchers advised that being honest and open is essentially the best for the individual.

"Until now," Russell added, "a key question about balancing the need to protect LGBT youth from harm while promoting their well-being has not been addressed: Do the benefits of coming out at school outweigh the increased risk of victimization? Our study points to the positive role of coming out for youth and young adult well-being."

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