Bisexual women and the risk of depression

Bisexual women are at greater risk of suffering from depression and alcohol abuse than their male counterparts, it has been suggested. Led by researcher Lisa Lindley of George Mason University - which started out as the Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia in 1957 - the study found females of this sexual orientation are also more likely to smoke, be victimised and experience stress.

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the investigation noted bisexuals often feel they are prejudiced against because other people believe they are confused about their sexual leaning and should choose to fancy either men or women.

Ms Lindlay stated: "I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about bisexuals. I think their risk has a lot more to do with stigma."

She observed female bisexuals may suffer more than males because men often tend to have a stronger connection to their community, while women feel that no such group exists for them.

Professor Marilyn J Davidson, Emerita Professor of Work Psychology, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "The findings of this US study certainly replicate recent UK research. Not only have lesbian, gay and bisexuals (LGBs) been identified as one of the most stressed groups in society and vulnerable to high levels of stress related ill health, bi-sexual females have been found to be the most vulnerable.

"In Ellison and Gunstone's survey of over 2,500 LGB and heterosexual people in the UK, they reported that lesbian and bisexual women reported the highest levels of current mental ill health - 16 per cent of lesbians and 26 per cent of bi-sexual women compared to 9 per cent of gay men and 14 per cent of bisexual men. This compared to only four per cent of heterosexual men and six per cent of heterosexual women.

"Like their American counterparts, these UK researchers proposed that these findings were based on bisexual women experiencing alienation and isolation both from the heterosexual and 'majority' gay communities."