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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;25(1):81-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2016.09.006. Epub 2016 Sep 23.

Older Age Associated with Mental Health Resiliency in Sexual Minority US Veterans.

Author information

1
Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT. Electronic address: joan.monin@yale.edu.
2
Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
3
Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.
4
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Objectives were to: (a) identify the mental health needs of older and younger sexual minority and heterosexual U.S. veterans and (b) examine whether sexual minority status confers vulnerability or resiliency in older adulthood. Support and trauma exposure were examined as potential mechanisms for age by sexual orientation differences.

METHODS:

Participants were a nationally representative sample of 3,095 U.S. veterans (ages 21 to 96 years). Measures included demographics, military characteristics, sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, or bisexual; LGB), social support, trauma, and mental health indicators (lifetime and present depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); lifetime anxiety and suicidal ideation).

RESULTS:

Younger LGB veterans were most likely to report lifetime depression and/or PTSD and current depression compared with older LGB and younger and older heterosexual veterans. Older LGB veterans had low levels of mental health problems, but they reported the smallest social support networks.

CONCLUSIONS:

Older and younger LGB veterans have different mental health challenges. Younger LGB veterans are more vulnerable to mental health problems than their older LGB peers. Older LGB veterans are resilient, but they may be at greater risk of social isolation than their younger LGB peers.

KEYWORDS:

Sexual minority status; aging; mental health; veterans

PMID:
27769835
PMCID:
PMC5291307
[Available on 2018-01-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.jagp.2016.09.006
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