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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hazardous Drinking, Depression, and Anxiety Among Sexual-Minority Women: Self-Medication or Impaired Functioning?

Sexual-minority women are at heightened risk for a number of mental health problems, including hazardous alcohol consumption, depression, and anxiety. We examined self-medication and impaired-functioning models of the associations among these variables and interpreted results within a life course framework that considered the unique social stressors experienced by sexual-minority women.

Data were from a sample of 384 women interviewed during the first two waves of the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women (CHLEW) study.

Covariance structure modeling revealed that (a) consistent with a self-medication process, anxiety was prospectively associated with hazardous drinking and (b) consistent with an impaired-functioning process, hazardous drinking was prospectively associated with depression.

Our findings support a life course perspective that interprets the mental health of adult sexual-minority women as influenced by adverse childhood experiences, age at drinking onset, first heterosexual intercourse, and first sexual identity disclosure, as well as by processes associated with self-medication and impaired functioning during adulthood.

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