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If you are reading this maybe you are struggling to understand your own anxiety symptoms. Maybe you experienced a few panic attacks. Or maybe you are looking for a way to help someone you care about. The good news is that understanding anxiety in LGBTQ and its context can be an important step toward acceptance and well-being.

It is known that LGBTQ people are at a higher risk for developing mental health disorders, especially depression, and anxiety. Research suggests that 30 to 60% of LGBTQ people will experience anxiety or depression at some stage in their life. The numbers are staggering, higher than in any other group of people. So, the question of mental health for the LGBTQ community becomes inevitable.

While this is a really complex matter, I identified the 3 most common reasons why coming out causes anxiety, based on my experience as an LGBTQ affirming therapist.

1. Anxiety because of disapproval

The first thing we should look at is the fear of disapproval. Since we are social beings and we live and thrive with the help of other people, this is one of the biggest fears of every person, not just LGBTQ individuals.

When you grow up in a surrounding that doesn’t make you feel welcome and accepted you will likely internalize that belief over time. Many in the LGBTQ community face overt discrimination and harassment or subtle hints that they wouldn’t be approved of if they came out. This kind of experience can trigger high levels of chronic stress, also known as minority stress.

LGBTQ therapy can soothe the process and provide a safe space to explore sexual orientation, gender identity, and other concerns that are interfering with the person’s well-being.

2. Anxiety about one’s safety

LGBTQ couple holding hands representing how support can help lesson the anxiety of members of the LGBTQ+ community when coming out. Our therapists are LGBTQIA+ affirming and here to offer that support.Deep down this fear is existential because it’s not only about people disapproving of one’s way of life. Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, bullying, and harassment can often lead to trauma.

LGBTQ people are confronted with many forms of stigma, such as labeling, stereotyping, denial of opportunities, and verbal, mental, and physical violence. They continue to be one of the most targeted communities by hate crime perpetrators and groups.

3. Fear of losing family and friends

This one hits close to the heart. For a lot of people, coming out causes anxiety because they aren’t sure how their family and friends will react. It can be a traumatic experience, particularly for those who do not have a supportive environment. A big portion of LGBTQ individuals have the support of family and friends, but almost all of them battled anxiety before coming out.

Coming out is a unique experience for each individual and there isn’t one right time that fits everyone. In LGBTQ therapy, we help navigate this path and what that process is for each person.

Are You Seeking an LGBTQ Affirming Therapist?

LGBTQ interracial couple hugging and holding balloons representing the joy that can come from finding love. Our Baltimore therapists are LGBTQIA affirming and support individuals of all genders and sexual orientations.Searching for help can be a difficult step, especially when it brings up feelings of shame, rejection, and fear of discrimination. So, it is important to make sure that the professional you choose has real experience in LGBTQ issues and makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Our main purpose in LGBTQ therapy is cultivating acceptance and support as you explore your true self. You don’t have to go through it alone. If you have any questions feel free to talk to us. We are here to help.

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About the Author:

Cathy Sullivan-Windt

Psychologist (Ph.D.) & Owner

Cathy is a licensed counseling psychologist with almost 20 years of experience. She specializes in women’s counseling, anxiety treatment, sexual assault recovery, life transitions, and relationship issues.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature, traveling, reading, and being with her family and friends.

Read More About Cathy

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