If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with autism, you might understandably have questions about this condition, as well as any accompanying challenges with mental health.
What is Autism?
Autism is a condition that affects the way people communicate and experience life. It is a “spectrum condition,” which means that no two people with autism will be the same. For some, they may need a little more time to process or understand something that is happening, whereas others with autism may need full-time care.
While autism impacts each person differently, most people with autism do have some traits in common. These include being bothered by bright lights, loud noises, and/or crowded areas; having difficulty recognizing what another person may be feeling; becoming upset if a familiar routine is changed; and being very focused on hobbies or topics of interest.
Mental Health Issues for People with Autism
Autism is not a mental health condition, and people diagnosed with autism can do very well in this aspect of their lives. However, approximately seventy percent of people with autism have at least one mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Unfortunately, there has not been a lot of solid research that explains a connection between autism and mental health challenges—at least not yet. It has been suggested that because people with autism may struggle to fit in or understand their environment, they may experience feelings of anxiety and depression. Also, while a person with autism may realize that they are struggling with their mental health, they may not feel a therapist will know how to work with someone with autism. As a result, they may delay getting help with mental health challenges or never get any assistance at all.
If mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or OCD go undiagnosed, they can worsen over time. This is especially true for people with autism who are dealing with anxiety, as it has been found to interfere with the way people with autism function. For instance, co-occurring anxiety has been found to increase self-harm, suicidal ideation, and family stress.
How to Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One
For someone with autism to get help with their mental health, they must first be aware that they are struggling. It is important for those with autism and their families to understand the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and when to get help.
People who are autistic and want to get help with their mental health need the right support. If you or a loved one with autism is struggling with mental health issues, you may consider asking a family member or trusted friend to help make an appointment with a doctor or come to the appointment for additional support.
We are Here to Help
To learn more about how our mental health services can help you or a loved one with autism, please reach out to the professionals at Orange County Behavioral Health by calling 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223. We are here for your support.