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Prospective associations between bi+ minority stressors and internalizing symptoms: The mediating roles of general and group-specific processes.

Dyar, Christina Feinstein, Brian A. Sarno, Elissa L. Pirog, Sophia Newcomb, Michael E. Whitton, Sarah W.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

Objective: The prevalence of anxiety and depressive (i.e., internalizing) disorders is higher among bi+ individuals (i.e., individuals with attractions to more than one gender and/or who identify as bisexual or pansexual) compared to both heterosexual and lesbian/gay individuals. Cross-sectional research has demonstrated that stressors unique to bi+ individuals are associated with internalizing symptoms. However, longitudinal research examining these associations and underlying mechanisms is extremely limited. 

Method: We utilized five waves of data (6 months between waves) from a diverse sample of bi+ individuals assigned female at birth (age 16–32; 29% gender minority; 72.9% racial/ethnic minority) to examine: (a) prospective associations between three bi+ stressors (enacted, internalized, anticipated bi+ stigma) and internalizing symptoms; (b) potential mediating role of rumination in these associations; and (c) potential mediating roles of internalized and anticipated bi+ stigma in associations between enacted bi+ stigma and internalizing symptoms.

Results: At the within-person level, when participants experienced more bi+ stressors than usual during a particular wave, they experienced subsequent increases in internalizing symptoms. Increases in rumination mediated these associations. Associations between enacted bi+ stigma and internalizing symptoms were mediated by increases in internalized and anticipated bi+ stigma. 

Conclusions: Findings indicate that bi+ stressors prospectively predict increases in internalizing symptoms and rumination may play a mechanistic role. Further, findings suggest that internalized and anticipated bi+ stigma may play mechanistic roles in the associations between enacted bi+ stigma and internalizing symptoms. Interventions targeting rumination, internalized stigma, and anticipated bi+ stigma may help to reduce internalizing symptoms among bi+ individuals.

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