FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Bisexual men have higher rates of mental health problems than gay men do, and new research suggests that this burden might stem from their desire to keep their sexual relationships with men secret.
Researchers evaluated the mental health of more than 200 bisexual men in the New York City area who were on the down-low, meaning they were married to or in a relationship with a woman and had had sex with a man in the past year. None of the men had told their female partner about their same-sex relationship.
The study found that men who wanted to conceal their sex with other men and were afraid of people finding out were more likely to experience depression and anxiety and lack positive feelings.
Men who had disclosed their bisexual behavior to someone other than their partner, like a close friend, were not less likely to suffer one of these mental health problems.
The study was published Jan. 2 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
"Trying to maintain a constant vigilance and thinking, 'Will someone find out?' and 'What would happen if somebody knew?' appears to be a stressor that adversely affects these men," said study author Eric Schrimshaw, an assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
But the good news is that there could be ways for these men to ease the toll of hiding their bisexual behavior.
The study suggests that concealment is linked to mental health problems only in men who have homophobic feelings and who lack good social support.
"Our primary goal should be working with these men to help them feel more comfortable with their identity so that they are less concerned about who might find out and dealing with concealment concerns," Schrimshaw said.
Previous research has found that about 37 percent of men in the United S
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