Stress brings clients to massage therapy. New research shows gay and bisexual massage clients’ bodies could harbor greater stress than their straight counterparts’.

The new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Children’s Hospital Boston has found that gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner are one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of these events.

PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated.

The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4 percent for men and 10 percent for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled to more than 9 percent for men and 20 percent for women.

“Something about our society puts individuals with minority sexual orientations at high risk for victimization,” said senior author Karestan Koenen, associate professor of society, human development and health at Harvard. “This is a major public health problem that needs to be addressed.”

This is the first study to directly link higher rates of PTSD in those four groups (classified as sexual minorities) to greater violence exposure.

The authors urge health-care providers and families to be aware that sexual minorities face a greater risk of violence and PTSD and may have a history of trauma that should be addressed before it becomes mentally debilitating.

“Pervasive Trauma Exposure Among US Sexual Orientation Minority Adults and Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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