People with down syndrome struggle a lot with their health due to the characteristics and impacts of this condition. It can impact their mental health too. Research shows that nearly 50% of children and adults with down syndrome tend to experience a significant mental health issue. In this article, we will discuss depression and its association with down syndrome.
What is depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness. It negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It can lead to many physical and emotional problems by causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in everything. Depression affects about an estimated 3.8% of the population. These numbers include five percent of adults and 5.7 percent of adults older than 60 years.
Can depression occur in down syndrome patients?
Yes. The most prevalent mental health concerns among people with down syndrome include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, oppositional behaviors, depression, and tic disorders. Research states that people with down syndrome exhibit multiple vulnerabilities and face heightened exposure to stressors. This can contribute to an elevated risk of developing depression. In addition to the general risk factors associated with depression, individuals with down syndrome face specific risk factors. These risk factors include reduced hippocampal volumes, alterations in neurotransmitter systems, deficits in language and working memory, attachment issues, and common somatic disorders. However, protective factors can also exist that help to mitigate their susceptibility to depression.
Are down syndrome patients more prone to depression?
Yes. According to the Down’s Syndrome Association, people who have a learning disability are about 2.5 times more likely to have a mental health condition. However, only about 1 in 10 of such people receive any treatment for it.
The diagnosis of depression in down syndrome is primarily based on the characteristics that can be observed, as self-reporting cannot be reliable for people with the condition. Therefore, the doctors advise the use of modified diagnostic criteria. It is very important to have witness reports by people close to the person concerned that the doctors can rely upon. They can observe them objectively and describe their behavioural changes.
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