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Home »  Living Healthy »  Study: Comfortably Talking About Your Sexual Identity With Family Members Can Help Reduce Stress

Study: Comfortably Talking About Your Sexual Identity With Family Members Can Help Reduce Stress

Researcher, Dr. Peggy Zoccola, determined that those who identify as LGBT and have come out to their family carry less stress hormones than those who have not come out, which may ultimately benefit their health.

Study: Comfortably Talking About Your Sexual Identity With Family Members Can Help Reduce Stress

Talking to family members about your sexual identity can help

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. The stress hormone that can damage an individual's health
  2. "The real stress punch seems to be with the family"
  3. People whose sexual identities is accepted have high self-esteem

According to a study, to be able to comfortably talk about your sexual identity - with family members specifically - is associated with reduced stress. The Ohio University study has been published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researcher, Dr. Peggy Zoccola, determined that those who identify as LGBT and have come out to their family carry less stress hormones than those who have not come out, which may ultimately benefit their health.

The study by Zoccola and co-author Andrew Manigaul discusses how feeling able to comfortably talk about your sexual identity with family members specifically, appears to be most linked to the output of cortisol, the stress hormone that can damage an individual's health if produced in large quantity.


"The real stress punch seems to be with the family," said Zoccola when referencing how greater disclosure of a LGBT individual's sexuality to their family is strongly linked to lower cortisol.

She points out that there has been sparse research on how the aspects of coming out by LGBT adults affect the release of stress hormones, however, some early studies have shown that if people who identify as sexual minorities feel acceptance from their families, they have higher self-esteem, lower depression and substance use rates and are less likely to think about suicide.

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"The real stress punch seems to be with the family," said Zoccola
Photo Credit: iStock

The results of Zoccola's research showed that the more open people were to disclosing their sexuality with their family, the lower cortisol levels they had.

"For these emerging adults, the family provides a foundation of support," said Zoccola. "If they're comfortable disclosing to their family, they seem to have a protective stress profile." 

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