We are a curious species by nature. We seek to not only experience the world, but to understand it. In our ever-persistent quest for answers we are often left with more questions that demand more answers. Such is the case when it comes to mental health symptoms such as those displayed in autism and related conditions. As modern medicine sheds more light on such issues, we realize that we are still leaps and bounds from identifying a clear, root cause. While we may not yet have all the answers to the enigma that is the human mind, it is clear that doctors, researchers, and patients themselves are always treading one step closer to a definitive answer that can in turn help those who really need it.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Definitions
With no two cases being alike, autism belongs to a family of conditions known as autism spectrum disorders; autism spectrum disorder definitions can vary as more research is done on the subject. Put plainly, autism spectrum disorder definition includes both autism and Asperger’s syndrome but also includes a spectrum of symptoms, skills, and disabilities which make autism spectrum disorder definition such a difficult endeavor to pinpoint. While some of those with autism spectrum disorders display mild symptoms, other individuals may be severely disabled. Autism itself is diagnosed only when the symptoms manifest before a child reaches the age of three and is typically characterized by repetitive or restrictive behaviors, impaired social and communicative skills, as well as a number of other potential symptoms or lack thereof — autism has no clear face in this respect which is clear thanks to social outreach groups which are fighting for increased autism awareness. Asperger syndrome also belongs to the autism spectrum disorder group but is typically considered as belonging to the “high-functioning” end of the spectrum as those with Asperger’s typically display the social impairment element persistent with autism without the developmental conditions.
Understanding Mental Illness and How it Manifests
Autism lies on an extreme end of the spectrum that is mental illness but is by no means exclusive. Millions of Americans suffer from one or more kinds of mental illness that can include ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and other kinds of mood disorders. Approximately 6.4 million children living in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which is characteristically identified by a lack of attention and concentration, impulsive actions, high activity levels, and a decrease in memory — this figure is representative of 11% of children between the ages of 4 to 17 in the U.S. but is by no means exclusive to children. On the other hand there are approximately 15 million adults in the United States diagnosed with clinical depression which is derived from a lack of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain — this figure represents as much as 6.7% of adults living in the United States. Anxiety and mood disorders are also far more common than many Americans would like to believe. All too often many people with these mental illnesses choose not to seek out help for fear of ridicule, judgement, or the simple conviction that getting help is not an available option.
Many who suffer from mental illnesses fear a diagnosis as there is the belief that such a label will generate preconceived notions regarding the individual’s character. For some, pharmaceuticals are a valued solution to the detrimental problem that is mental illness. For others, such prescription drugs can themselves become a cause of anxiety and depression as they may believe the effect the drug has on their mind does not allow them to live in a genuine way. There is no universally correct answer lying at the heart of this debate as each mental illness manifests in such a way that is wholly unique to the individual themselves. To put it simply, there are pharmaceutical options that may help alleviate the symptoms that those with mental illnesses suffer from, but these are by no means the only option; consider consulting with an expert and go with confidence that you are not alone when dealing with your mental illness.