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Are Developmental Disabilities Mental Illnesses?

By November 19, 2021November 22nd, 2022No Comments2 min read
Are Developmental Disabilities Mental Illnesses?

Are Developmental Disabilities Mental Illnesses?

Are Developmental Disabilities mental illnesses?? This is a question that really confuses a lot of people.

First, let’s define each term. According to CDC, Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. They may begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Developmental disabilities include; Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD and learning disabilities.

These disabilities, therefore, occur at conception, during pregnancy, or after birth and ultimately affect how a child develops. They are caused by various factors e.g, genetics, environmental factors, medical conditions. These conditions appear in childhood and do not get noticed until they interfere with the daily activities or milestones of the child.

Mental illnesses are also called mental disorders. They are psychiatric disorders that cause significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. These disorders affect your mood, ability to function, and behavior. They include; depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, addictive behaviors, and more.

How do mental illnesses differ from developmental disabilities

Developmental disabilities are diagnosed when the patient is younger than 18 years. Mental illness on the other hand e.g. depression can occur at any time.

Developmental Disabilities are lifelong disabilities while mental illness may not be lifelong. Some may be temporary or recur in episodes.

Developmental disabilities and mental illnesses will affect thought processes and behavior in different ways. Individuals with developmental disabilities will not have the cognitive ability to understand thoughts. A mental illness on the other hand does not directly affect cognitive ability. It changes perception and thought processes.

An individual with Down syndrome but no mental illness for example will not have hallucinations just as an individual with Depression will have suicidal thoughts and not lose the cognitive ability to understand those thoughts and situations.

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