Coming out to their families could reduce LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people's stress levels, a new study shows.
The study included 58 LGBT adults, aged 18 to 35, who were asked about their depression and anxiety levels, how much support they felt, and if they had come out to family, friends, coworkers and others.
Saliva samples were taken to check the participants' levels of the stress hormone cortisol. While the study couldn't prove cause and effect, the more open participants were about their sexuality to their family, the lower their cortisol levels.
"For these emerging adults, the family provides a foundation of support," said researcher Peggy Zoccola, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio University.
"If they're comfortable disclosing to their family, they seem to have a protective stress profile," she said in a university news release.
High levels of cortisol can damage health, so these findings suggest that coming out to their families may benefit LGBT people's health, according to Zoccola.
The study was published in the October issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
Previous studies have found that if LGBT people feel accepted by their families, they have higher self-esteem, lower rates of depression and substance use, and are less likely to think about suicide.