Asperger’s and mental health issues

Hi

I’ve recently been diagnosed with aspergers type autism, I’m kind of trying to understand this and I’m getting there but what I’m really struggling with is something the specialist said in the session.

I discussed my past mental health issues with him and he mentioned this was a pattern he had seen lots of times before and that ‘it’s most likely all my mental health issues are because of the autism’.

This has made me so angry and I can’t seem to get past it, just wondering if any of you have had any similar experience/ would be able to reach out and discuss with me.

thanks 

  • Yes, It's not that uncommon either. Most mental health professionals do not condisor autism when assessing individuals because  autism because autism can manifest in a similar way to post traumatic stress disorder and their lack of up to date knowledge and personal experience of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Ironically an individual with autism can be greatly influences as well as it increasing the risk of the an individual developing post traumatic stress disorder and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and in most situations medical professional will try to treat the depression and anxiety separately from the autism related issues causing the mental health problems and negative behavioural issues which isn't going to help individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorder. 

    From personal experience most antidepressant medication and antipsychotic medication have little to no effect on individuals with autism and ADHD and can greatly affect them in negative manner by excavating the negative behaviours associated with autism and ADHD. In some instances the medication may appear to reducing anxiety and stress but fundamentally can cause individuals to have difficulty processing information and perform daily tasks. 

    It is okay to be angry, I was angry too when i realised all my mental health issues was because i was on the autism spectrum and I also have ADHD. Its okay to be angry it took me from the age of sixteen to the age of twenty two to get diagnosed and to be taken seriously about my issues and i'm still somewhat angry that it wasn't diagnosed sooner because i've missed out on the support and help that could of helped me succeed. It was pointed out many times throughout my childhood but the no one wanted to pursue it earlier. It angers me that growing up is was frequently and unfairly being punished for situation i found myself in because of the autism and ADHD. I think because i am know in my mid twenties i am still angry about it but apparently to the older autism community that anger will fade once you get the direction in life you're looking for. It may take you longer than the average person to find that direction with a little support but apparently will find it if we make the effort.

  • You need to change your username and add something into your bio, Most folks on here do not answer questions until that done because we tend to get a lot of trolls and here. 

  • I wouldn't say ALL the mental health issues are caused by autism, and a good therapist shouldn't say that either (I would know I have seen many of them). I can totally understand why that would enrage you. It might help to know I was seeking counselling and help for my anxiety, depression, and all my aspie traits, for years before getting diagnosed at 31 and the only reason I got a diagnosis was because my therapist was smart enough to say, 'I think there's something else going on here and you should seek additional help'. She realised there was only so much help counselling alone could offer to deal with many of my anxieties which were often social/relational and processesing. There were also a whole fleet of issues that had nothing to do with my AS, like past abuse and narcissistic parents, which anyone would need therapy for regardless if they were NT or AS. Perhaps he was trying to comfort you that many if not all Aspies display mental health issues so you're not the only one... I don't see how that would make you feel better, but again, I'm Aspie (see how easy it is to draw the conclusion that AS is always why). Personally I would try to see someone else who has a more holistic approach and isn't so pejorative about ASD, ie can see you as a "person *with* autism" rather than "autistic person"- while it is helpful to belong and claim that identity completely free of shame, I find that the rest of who you are gets sucked into a title many don't understand or can't see past to get the whole mosaic of who you are.

    So yeah, mental health issues can be seen as the dark side of Aspergers (like, you know, most of our struggles), which is totally reasonable considering we live in a NT world which constantly triggers us. But that is not to say because you will always be AS means you will always have mental health problems, that's not true. Good therapy gives you new coping mechanisms, gives you new neuro-pathways (CBT), gives you healthier processing, including more ways to be self-empathetic and love who you are and that can combat anxiety and depression to no end!

  • This is going to sound really cynical but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy isn't always suitable to treat individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Not all Cognitive Behavioural Therapists can adapt Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and when they do they tend to focus on mindfulness techniques which are unsuitable the majority of people who have sensory sensitivity.

  • Hi 

    Welcome to this forum

    If possible can you  describe the mental health issues that are causing you issues so I can work out if they are autism related or not.

    What type of therapist are u dealing with?

  • That very much depends on what your working definition and practices of CBT are. Mindfulness has nothing to do with CBT. CBT in practice involves physical actions that you undertake to redirect neuro-pathways using GABA, the chemical effecting neurotransmitters. 

  • I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy twice now and they they used mindfulness techniques to alter your belief system to encourage you think about stress situation in another way. Problems with this is a person on the spectrum may lack the imagination to alter the perception of social situations making it difficult for them to change their perspective in a positive manor.

    The practicing action such as splashing your face in cold water when you are experiencing a negative interpretation of an upcoming situation can not only be distressing to some individuals with sensitivity issues but can overstimulate individuals on the spectrum into autism related meltdown or shutdown. 

    It takes a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist with a deep understanding of autism to have a positive effect on an individual's with autism without the therapy resulting in self destructive behaviour. 

    Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be as destructive as Applied Behavioral Analysis when performed incorrectly and with a practitioner who has not got the understanding and knowledge of any neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism, ADHD, Aphantaisa & Sensory processing disorder. 

  • I hear what you are saying but what you are describing is not effective CBT. I think it is unfair to be suspicious of CBT when what you described in my opinion wasn't CBT. Having had both mindfulness training and CBT (and living with hyper sensitive sensory responses), both done by practitioners with no special knowledge of autism, and coming from a family of psychotherapists, I believe when done correctly CBT does help reduce mental health stressors associated with Aspergers, that has been my personal experience. 

  • Thanks for that! 

    You need to change your username and add something into your bio, Most folks on here do not answer questions until that done because we tend to get a lot of trolls and here. 
  • So in the past I have really struggled with anxiety, depression etc which has led to lots of self harm, eating issues and suicide attempts. I could never understand what I was doing wrong and why I blamed myself so much and I would punish myself for that. And just hearing in the assessment that it was likely caused by not knowing I had autism was just so hard to take. I’ve done loads of different counselling over the years, seen different psychologist , been under acute mental health teams do some a lot, like cbt dbt and various others. At the moment I’m not seeing anyone but will go back to seeing counsellor as I don’t think I can cope with this on my own