A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry and conducted at Sweeden’s Karolinska Institutet found that women on the autism spectrum were more likely than men to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The study looked at 20,000 individuals and found that 77% of women had been diagnosed with a mental health condition while only 62% of men had been diagnosed with at least one condition.
Mental Health Conditions Accompanying Autism
In particular, the researchers found that women were more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm and sleeping difficulties.
What Does This Mean?
If you are on the autism spectrum or have a loved one that is, you need to consider seeking out mental health care for them.
Other researchers have found that people on the autism spectrum are four times more likely to suffer from depression throughout their lifetime than those not on the spectrum. According to University of Pittsburg professor Carla A. Mazefsky, about 70% of youth diagnosed with autism suffer from depression during their teen years, and that depression often persists into adulthood. Furthermore, drugs used to treat depression may affect those with autism differently than the general population, so working with a trained mental health professional is essential.
Over 40% of adolescents on the autism spectrum suffer from anxiety, which often makes repetitive behaviors more frequent. Individuals may have a specific phobia, suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, feel intense social anxiety or be more prone to separation anxiety. Therefore, psychologists must work to help individuals with autism find ways to express their anxiety.
Sleep disorders may affect up to 80% of people on the autism spectrum. Sleep issues are almost 50% more likely in children with autism than in the general population. Individuals are likely to spend 11 minutes longer falling asleep and spend about 50% less time in the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, which can affect their learning ability.
If you feel that you or your child are struggling with mental health issues related to autism, reach out to American Behavioral Clinics today.