Distress and Depression in Men Who Have Sex with Men: The Urban Men's Health Study

Thomas C. Mills*, Jay Paul, Ron Stall, Lance Pollack, Jesse Canchola, Y. Jason Chang, Judith T. Moskowitz, Joseph A. Catania

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


Objective: This study estimates the prevalence of depression and describes the correlates and independent associations of distress and depression among U.S. men who have sex with men. Method: A household-based probability sample of men who have sex with men (N=2,881) was interviewed between 1996 and 1998 in four large American cities. With cutoff points of 15 and 22 for the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, individual correlates and predictors of distress and depression were examined, and multinomial logistic regression was performed. Results: The 7-day prevalence of depression in men who have sex with men was 17.2%, higher than in adult U.S. men in general. Both distress and depression were associated with lack of a domestic partner; not identifying as gay, queer, or homosexual; experiencing multiple episodes of antigay violence in the previous 5 years; and very high levels of community alienation. Distress was also associated with being of other than Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity and experiencing early antigay harassment. Depression was also associated with histories of attempted suicide, child abuse, and recent sexual dysfunction. Being HIV positive was correlated with distress and depression but not significantly when demographic characteristics, developmental history, substance use, sexual behavior, and current social context were controlled by logistic regression. Conclusions: Rates of distress and depression are high in men who have sex with men. These high rates have important public health ramifications. The predictors of distress and depression suggest prevention efforts that might be effective when aimed at men who have sex with men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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