Depression higher in transgender youth: study

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A new study suggested that transgender and gender non-conforming children and adolescents may be more likely to develop depression and other mental health conditions, compared with individuals whose gender identity matches their assigned gender at birth.

The research conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena by author Tracy A Becerra-Culqui and his colleagues reported their findings in the journal Pediatrics that there was a greater risk of mental health conditions among youth who are transgender and gender non-conforming.

According to Becerra-Culqui, previous studies that investigated the mental health of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals only looked at a small number of people, and any symptoms of mental health disorders were self-reported.

For this latest study, however, the team gathered data from the electronic medical records of 1,347 children and teenagers — aged 3–17 years — who were transgender or gender non-conforming.

Of these individuals, 44 percent were transfeminine (their assigned gender at birth was male), and 56 percent were transmasculine (their assigned gender at birth was female).

Between 2006 and 2014, the researchers looked at the prevalence of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder, among these youths.

‘Findings should raise awareness’

The study revealed that the risk of developing a mental health condition was three to 13 times higher for transgender and gender non-conforming youth than youth whose gender identity corresponded with their assigned gender at birth, also referred to as cisgender.

Diagnoses of depression and attention deficit disorder were the most common mental health conditions among children and teenagers who were transgender and gender non-conforming, the researchers report.

TRANSGENDER SURGERY CAN IMPROVE LIFE:

Researchers have also found that transgender surgery may improve well-being for many people.

In fact, the risk of attention deficit disorder was three to seven times greater among these individuals, compared with those who were cisgender; and, the risk of depression was four to seven times greater.

Around 15 percent of transfeminine and 16 percent of transmasculine youth were diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, while depression was diagnosed among 49 percent of transfeminine and 62 percent of transmasculine youth.

Becerra-Culqui and colleagues are unable to pinpoint the precise reasons behind their findings, but they believe that gender dysphoria may play a role.

Gender dysphoria is a condition wherein an individual experiences distress because of a disconnect between their biological sex and the gender with which they identify.

Additionally, the team notes that many transgenders and gender non-conforming individuals are subject to prejudice and discrimination, which can cause stress and potentially lead to mental health problems.