The Top Signs Of Asperger’s And Depression
Updated January 14, 2020
Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Asperger's Syndrome, also known as high-functioning autism, is characterized by difficulties in understanding normal social interactions, repetitive behaviors, and deep but limited interests. Individuals with Asperger's are prone to developing depression as well; because the two conditions share features, depression may be difficult to detect in this population.
Shared Symptoms of Asperger's and Depression
The following are some symptoms common to both Asperger's and depression:
- Social Isolation is a primary symptom of both Asperger's and depression.
- Anxiety is commonly experienced by those with Asperger's. Anxiety often accompanies depression as well.
- Difficulty concentrating. Because Asperger's affects executive functioning, difficulty concentrating is a common symptom. Problems with concentration characterize depression as well.
- Difficulty making decisions. This symptom is also related to executive functioning and is common to both Asperger's and depression.
- Difficulty with memory. Another symptom related to executive functioning that can also affect those with depression.
- Restlessness. Those with both Asperger's and certain types of depression may experience greater restlessness than normal.
- Irritability. Common to those with Asperger's, irritability also characterizes depression.
Because the above warning signs for depression are common in Asperger's as well, depression may go undiagnosed in individuals with high-functioning autism. Therefore, to detect depression in individuals with Asperger's, it is important to watch for changes in baseline symptoms for the above, as well as the following symptoms:
- Sleep disturbances.
- Reduced attention span.
- Mood changes.
- Withdrawal from usual interests.
- Changes in appetite.
If left unchecked, depression in someone already struggling with Asperger's can be a serious problem. It is especially important to be aware of the warning signs for suicide.
If you have Asperger's, it may feel difficult to share with family or close friends when you are struggling with depression. But remember that without the facts, a solution cannot be found.
Family and friends should also recognize that although individuals on the autism spectrum are susceptible to depression, they may be unable to recognize the changes themselves. If you suspect depression in a loved one with Asperger's, find a therapist who specializes in autism spectrum and depression. Depression in those with Asperger's is common enough that good therapists are already aware of the problem, and they will know how to diagnose and treat it.
What You Can Do
Many people will experience depression at some point. Individuals deal with short bouts of depression in different ways, but certain things are generally helpful. Going out with friends, beginning a new hobby, and spending time doing enjoyable activities can help counter mild depression. Depression in those with Asperger's syndrome are caused by the same factors that would trigger depression in most people. However, such individuals may not have the same coping skills.
Here are some suggestions about how individuals with Asperger's can cope with depression.
Write it down. Journaling is a super-effective way of dealing with depression and anxiety. You can use a journal as a doodle book, or you can write down your feelings. Having an expressive outlet is a great way to help yourself that doesn't require much money or prep time.
Reach out. Your support system can play a huge part in your recovery. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people.
Try meditation. Both depression and Asperger's are associated with anxiety and restlessness. Meditation is a great way to get in touch with and regulate emotions. There is a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but once you get it down, you will be able to reap its many benefits.
BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that offers an economically friendly way to battle your problems. BetterHelp therapists are fully accredited. They offer services for a wide variety of issues, including Asperger's and depression.
One of the best things about BetterHelp is its accessibility. Not only is is a therapist available at the click of a button, from the comfort of your home, but BetterHelp is available around the clock. Knowing that someone is always there to reach out to can help keep you calmer and more relaxed during difficult times. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"Chris has helped my manage my depression and anxiety in meaningful, productive ways. He helps me gain a clearer perspective and identify negative thought patterns that are at odds with a healthy, positive outlook. I would recommend Chris to anybody else trying to deal with their depression."
"I put off finding a therapist for a long time. I dreaded my first conversation with Neil and all the awkward, clunky explanations I'd have to give about my depression and anxiety. All of the things that felt like dirty little secrets that caused me so much pain. But I was so pleasantly surprised by the way Neil accurately picked up on what I was saying and gave me more insight into how my brain was working. It made my issue feel so much less of a personal problem and more of a universal problem we could examine together. He always gives me a thoughtful response within a day or two any time I send a message. I actually think we've made more progress in between sessions just by being able to communicate things that are coming up in real time. Neil is intelligent and kind. I really appreciate his communication style and highly recommend him."
Depression is challenging under any circumstances, but when an individual is already struggling with Asperger's, depression can be especially debilitating and also more difficult to detect. If you notice any of the changes discussed above, in either yourself or your loved one with Asperger's, reach out to a therapist for help. Early detection is key; don't let fear or uncertainty hold you back from claiming a future that you or your loved one deserve. There is no better decision you can make than to reach out for help.