As adults with Down syndrome grow older, there is increased risk of experiencing certain common mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and behavioral disturbances. A sudden or abrupt change in mood or behavior patterns warrants further investigation. A thorough medical assessment is recommended to look for any new (and potentially correctable) physical or medical conditions that may be contributing to the change in behavior or mood.
Psychiatric illnesses can have different features in adults with Down syndrome, thus an evaluation from a mental health provider with special training or expertise in adults with intellectual disabilities is recommended. In addition to medical and psychological contributors to mood changes, it is important to be sensitive to any significant change in environment or social structure. Pay attention to any recent emotional upheavals that the individual may have experienced, including loss of a parent, loss of a housemate, departure of a beloved staff member, conflict at the workplace, etc. The effects of these changes should not be underestimated as individuals may experience great difficulty coping.
- Living Longer, Living Healthier: Presentation Video and Slides
- Mental Wellness and Good Health in Older Adults with Down Syndrome: Presentation Video and Slides
- Lessons in Grief and Death: Supporting People with Developmental Disabilities in the Healing Process. Van Dyke, L. Homewood, IL: High Tide Press. (2003)
- Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome. McGuire, D. and Chicoine, B. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. (2005)