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14. Depression and learning disability

Some degree of learning disability is present in 2–3% of the population, and a quarter of these people show evidence of psychiatric disorder. This increased rate of psychiatric illness might be partly due to psychological factors, which include the stigma of being learning disabled, and the frustrations and limitations of daily life. It may also partly be due to altered brain functioning (which has given rise to the learning disability).

In people with learning disabilities, depression is much more likely to show itself with changes in behaviour rather than the person actually complaining of feeling depressed. Agitation and overactivity can occur, but withdrawn behaviour is especially likely. Apathy and general slowing down are very common.  Sometimes repetitive and compulsive behaviour may emerge. Sometimes the depression may show itself by the development of physical symptoms as a sign of distress (somatisation).

In people with learning disabilities, depression is much more likely to show itself with changes in behaviour rather than the person actually complaining of feeling depressed. Agitation and overactivity can occur, but withdrawn behaviour is especially likely. Apathy and general slowing down are very common.  Sometimes repetitive and compulsive behaviour may emerge. Sometimes the depression may show itself by the development of physical symptoms as a sign of distress (somatisation).

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