At least half of all children and adults with Down syndrome face a major mental health concern during their life span. Children and adults with multiple medical problems experience an even higher rate of mental health problems.
The most common mental health concerns include: general anxiety, repetitive and obsessive-compulsive behaviors; oppositional, impulsive, and inattentive behaviors; sleep related difficulties; depression; autism spectrum conditions; and neuropsychological problems characterized by progressive loss of cognitive skills.
The pattern of mental health problems in Down syndrome vary depending on the age and developmental characteristics of the child or adult with Down syndrome as follows.
Young and early school age children with limitations in language and communication skills, cognition, and non-verbal problem solving abilities present with increased vulnerabilities in terms of:
- Disruptive, impulsive, inattentive, hyperactive and oppositional behaviors (raising concerns of coexisting oppositional disorder and ADHD)
- Anxious, stuck, ruminative, inflexible behaviors (raising concerns of co-existing generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders)
- Deficits in social relatedness, self-immersed, repetitive stereotypical behaviors (raising concerns of co-existing autism or pervasive developmental disorder)
- Chronic sleep difficulties, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and mood related problems (raising concerns of co-existing sleep disorders and sleep apnea)