Research Examines Disparities in Mental Health Care for Some Gender Identities

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One significant difference was an increased rate of bupropion prescriptions for transgender females.

Due to societal stigmatization, transgender and nonbinary individuals are at high risk of anxiety or mood related disorders. Stigmatization also creates a high risk that transgender and nonbinary individuals may have little to no access to proper treatment regimens.

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Image credit: Mary Long | stock.adobe.com

Mental Health Clinician has published a review on antidepressant prescribing in transgender and nonbinary adults. The study focused on determining whether transgender patients’ treatment trends correlated with those of cisgender patients.

Antidepressant treatments between gender identities were similar. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were the main drug class prescribed for each gender identity group. Although the researchers found no observable differences in the number of active prescriptions between gender identities, they determined gaps in care still exist.

The researchers found that 38% of transgender patients who suffered from anxiety or mood disorders received no antidepressant treatment. This lack of treatment exposes a gap in patient care.

The one significant difference was an increased rate of bupropion prescriptions for transgender females. In the discussion, the authors wrote, “Increased anxiety is a reported side effect of bupropion. Therefore, the lower rates of [generalized anxiety disorder] diagnoses seen in transgender females may possibly explain the higher rate of bupropion prescribing in the patient population.”

Because there is no competitor group, the increase in bupropion prescriptions could be a coincidence in this study. Because the issue of gender identities and mental health prescribing has relatively little research, these overall results are limited by the lack of a competitor group.

About the Author

Samantha Gorski is a 2025 PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut.

A prescriber’s decision is minimally influenced by gender identity when determine therapy, according to these findings, but more research still needs to be conducted. It is important to treat patients with equal importance regardless of gender to help improve each patient’s quality of life.

Reference

Tiefenthaler CM, Lee KC. Antidepressant prescribing in transgender and nonbinary individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria and mood or anxiety disorders. Ment Health Clin. 2023;13(6):298-302. Published 2023 Dec 1. doi:10.9740/mhc.2023.12.298

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