March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This is a time to focus on the needs of people with developmental disabilities and their families. Developmental disabilities are conditions that involve an impairment in learning, language, or behavior. These conditions are life-long and typically impact day-to-day functioning.

Mental illness doesn’t usually interfere with cognitive abilities, but a developmental disorder may affect a person’s ability to understand or learn certain concepts regarding their condition.

Mental health conditions and developmental disabilities can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a mental health condition, while approximately 1 in 6 children has a developmental disability. We as a society must become more aware of these conditions and learn how to support those who are affected by them.

mental health

Types of developmental disorders

The most common types of developmental disabilities are:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Other learning disabilities
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment

We tend to think of the term “developmental disorder” as a blanket term, but it includes many different conditions unique to each individual. While some developmental disorders are physical in nature (such as cerebral palsy or hearing loss), others have more cognitive impairments, such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Anyone can be affected by developmental disorders, but people with a family history of these conditions are at higher risk. Additionally, for premature babies or children whose mother had an illness during pregnancy -such as rubella- then there may be more chance they’ll develop a developmental disorder later on in life.

Difference between a mental health disorder and a developmental disability

Approximately 40% of people with developmental disabilities are diagnosed with mental illness. A mental health disorder is a diagnosable condition that significantly impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Disorders can be classified as either “major” or “minor,” with some disorders being more severe and impacting more areas of life. Developmental disabilities are conditions that begin in childhood and affect a person’s ability to learn, speak, or move. In addition, genetic disorders cause many developmental disabilities during pregnancy and birth.

Mental health disorders can be treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Developmental disabilities cannot be cured, but many treatments can help people live as independently as possible with their condition.

The most common mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSS). These conditions are also known as psychological illnesses or psychiatric problems because they can have both physical and emotional symptoms.

The most common developmental disabilities include Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and Fragile X Syndrome. These conditions are also known as intellectual or cognitive impairments because they affect how people think, learn, and communicate with others.

Mental health disorders can be severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to work, go to school, or take care of themselves. Developmental disabilities can also be severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to live independently, but they typically do not impact a person’s mental health in the same way.

Both mental health disorders and developmental disabilities are serious conditions that require specialized care and support. People with these conditions have many strengths, but they also need help from family members or other caregivers in order for them to live well and participate fully as contributing members of society.

What is a dual diagnosis?

A dual diagnosis is when a person has both a mental health disorder and a developmental disability. This term is used to describe the combination of conditions, but it does not mean that the person has two separate diagnoses. A dual diagnosis can be caused by different factors, such as genetics or problems during pregnancy and birth.

People with a dual diagnosis often need specialized care and support. They may require medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Treatment for a dual diagnosis can be expensive and time-consuming, but it is important to get help as soon as possible.

If you are worried that you or someone you know has a dual diagnosis, please seek professional help right away.

Lack of awareness surrounding the dual diagnosis of people with developmental disabilities

In many cases, people with a dual diagnosis are not diagnosed until they reach adulthood or even later in life. This is because medical professionals and the general public often misunderstand mental health disorders and developmental disabilities. Many doctors do not understand how these conditions can affect each other, so they may misdiagnose symptoms of one condition as another.

This lack of awareness surrounding the dual diagnosis of people with developmental disabilities significantly impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Disorders can be classified as either “major” or “minor,” with major disorders being more severe and impacting more areas of life.

People with a dual diagnosis often experience many different symptoms that can be difficult to manage. Some of the most common symptoms include mood swings, problems with communication, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and aggression. These symptoms can make it hard for them to participate in school or work.

Caregiver burnout affects many families of people with a dual diagnosis

Caregiver burnout is a serious problem that can affect anyone who provides care for someone with a mental health disorder or developmental disability. It is caused by the continuous and excessive stress of providing care for someone else.

The symptoms of caregiver burnout include physical tiredness, emotional exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Caregivers often feel alone if they don’t have a strong support network.

Factors that contribute to caregiver burnout

Caregivers are at high risk of experiencing burnout if their needs are not met or they don’t have a robust support system of family and friends. Other factors contributing to caregiver burnout include lack of sleep, constant worry about the person they’re caring for, and an inability to take care of themselves properly due to feeling overwhelmed with their responsibilities.

Signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout

Caregivers need to recognize when they are experiencing signs of burnout. Caregiver burnout can have a negative impact on both the caregiver and the person receiving care.

Some common signs of caregiver burnout include: feeling tired all the time, irritability or anger towards others, and wanting to avoid people in general (including family or friends).

How to prevent caregiver burnout

There are many things caregivers can do to prevent themselves from experiencing caregiver burnout. Some tips include:

Taking a break every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes

Talking to someone like a trusted family member, friend, or therapist about how you’re feeling

Trying to get regular exercise and eat healthy meals.

How to support those with dual diagnosis

There are many ways to help people with developmental disabilities and mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives. One way is to provide support for their families and caregivers. Unfortunately, caregivers can experience burnout if they don’t get the proper support.

People with developmental disabilities, their families, and caregivers may often feel lonely or isolated due to a lack of understanding, discrimination, or stigma surrounding mental health and disability. Unfortunately, stigma is often one of the primary reasons people don’t seek the help they need.

Many people with developmental disabilities are afraid to ask for help because there is still a stigma surrounding disability itself. Since the spectrum of developmental disabilities is broad, many people who live with them are high functioning yet still struggle with their mental health issues because they’re afraid of being judged or patronized.

One way to support people with dual diagnoses is by reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Becoming more aware of the challenges that people diagnosed with developmental disability and mental illness face can help counteract many misconceptions.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with dual diagnosis and mental health issues, or are experiencing caregiver burnout, contact Serene Health. We offer a broad range of behavioral health and mental health services, including individual and family therapy. We also offer late evening and weekend appointments from our Telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the location of your choice. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visitwww.serenehealth.com to book an appointment.