The Mental Health of Older LGBT Adults

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Jun;18(6):60. doi: 10.1007/s11920-016-0697-y.


There are approximately one million older lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults in the USA. Their mental health issues result from interactions between genetic factors and stress associated with membership in a sexual minority group. Although advancements in acceptance and equal treatment of LGBT individuals have been occurring, sexual minority status remains associated with risks to physical and mental well-being. Older LGBT adults are more likely to have experienced mistreatment and discrimination due to living a majority of their lives prior to recent advancements in acceptance and equal treatment. All LGBT adults experience one common developmental challenge: deciding if, when, and how to reveal to others their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. LGBT individuals have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders and also are at increased risk for certain medical conditions like obesity, breast cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Improved education and training of clinicians, coupled with clinical research efforts, holds the promise of improved overall health and life quality for older LGBT adults.

Keywords: Bisexual; Gay; Lesbian; Mental health; Older adults; Transgender.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Bisexuality*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Homosexuality*
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*