Autism & Depression

For an adult who is considered "depressed," we find the world as being overwhelming, oppressive and, often, over stimulating. We perceive the world as requiring us to conform to behaviors that ignore our individual integrity, feelings or personal values regardless of our personal circumstances. Often, grieving over a loss, of a person or position, is not allowed or tolerated beyond a certain temporal expectation. We can either shrink from the world's demands by falling into a hopelessness and tendency to give up or we can become tenacious and contending and buy into actively opposing a perceived rejection, oppression or ambivalence. Either way, we pose a resistance to the expected social response that locks up or traps our energy into a contending with or withdrawing from the expected social behavior. Medication and therapy often reduces that need to contend or withdraw through reducing personal resistance, thereby, allowing the client to more willingly participate in the world’s expected social behaviors.

In depression, we can often see the origins that lead a person to adopt a contentious or withdrawn behavior. We can see the etiology. In autism, the effects and affects may appear to be the same but in differing degree. Severe depression can be viewed as presenting like extreme autism. The withdrawal is obvious. The behaviors for coping, or not, can be similar. In short, it can appear to be the same with a few minor differences. But the lesser types of autism (like Asperger’s) can appear to present similarly with mild to moderate forms of depression. They both present a withdrawal from expected or required social behavior. The fact that autism can appear in childhood without the expected personal loss that is normally associated with depression is testimony to the fact that genetics plays a powerful part in its presenting. Could it be that depression in an individual who has experienced a heavy loss creates or morphs their genes so that when they have children their child is imbued with the potential toward producing a similar condition? This may explain why children present autistic behaviors at an early age without the obvious losses or social inducements. Perhaps the transferred gene produces a hypersensitivity to social interaction resulting in their withdrawal.

We cannot stereotype autism, depression and other similar conditions based on sweeping assessments but, by the same token, we must not assume that these conditions have no relation to each other and that their etiologies come from different planets. Our egos have a magnificent set of coping mechanisms that allow us to adjust to the world in ways that preserves our individual homeostasis. Just because our personally preferred homeostasis does not conform to the current socially desired responses we must not simply assume that it is pathological. Perhaps our social expectations are unreasonable.

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