Depression and Dyslexia
Reading disabilities like dyslexia affects one in five children. It is estimated that up to 80% of school children with poor reading skills are dyslexic. Both males and females suffer from equal rates of dyslexia. Dyslexia can make school and work much more challenging than usual and can trigger anxious feelings in people who do not receive intervention services for the disability. Anxiety and stress can also trigger depression symptoms and feelings of low self-esteem in at-risk people. Unfortunately, there is a link between learning disabilities and the rates of depression and other mood disorders. But there are effective treatment methods for dyslexia and depression.
What are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia?
Dyslexia might be a learning disability, but it is not an intellectual disability. People with the condition occupy all levels of intellect, from below average, to average, and gifted. Although dyslexia is a lifelong condition, it can be successfully treated and managed, and children can go on to graduate from school and even pursue higher education. The key is to catch dyslexia early and get people the help they need. The signs of dyslexia often start before school and then progress during early childhood education. Adults with unaddressed dyslexia frequently experience low self-esteem resulting in depression.
Signs before school:
- Talking later than normal
- Difficulty learning new words
- Problems forming words, such as reversing the sounds of words or confusing terms that sound similar
- Trouble remembering names, letters, numbers, and colors
- Struggling to learn nursery rhymes or play games that involve rhymes or singing
Signs after entering school:
- Reading far below basic levels for their age group
- Difficulty understanding and processing what they hear
- Trouble remembering or forming the right words and answers to questions
- An inability to recognize sequences
- Difficulty seeing and sometimes understanding the similarities, and differences between letters and words
- Difficulty pronouncing or sounding out a new word
- Taking an unusually long time to finish tasks that involve reading or spelling
- Avoiding reading or writing activities
- School or work does not reflect the person’s intellectual ability
Symptoms may also become apparent during the adolescent or adult years and are similar to the signs that children experience. Unfortunately, teens who do not get treatment for dyslexia are at high-risk of dropping out of school. Furthermore, people with dyslexia are often diagnosed with a condition called dysgraphia, or difficulty with handwriting.
Who is at risk of becoming dyslexic?
Dyslexia is caused by biological and genetic risk factors, not family situations or mental health conditions. Known risk factors for dyslexia include:
- Being born premature or with a low birth weight
- Being exposed to drugs, or alcohol, or infection while in utero
- Having a family history of learning disabilities
Also, brain imaging scans on people with dyslexia have found that there are differences in regions of the brain that are used for reading and language processing. But early intervention can change the way the brain processes the written word and language association. Children with dyslexia are also at slightly higher risk of having ADD or ADHD, which can make the condition harder to diagnose and treat quickly.
What are the emotional and social consequences of untreated dyslexia?
People with dyslexia will fall behind their peers in school or work. Reading and writing are basic school subjects and tools used daily in the office, and a person who cannot grasp these crucial elements of the curriculum or workplace will be at an extreme disadvantage. This can lower their self-esteem, and increase other behavior issues. These people may also withdraw from their peers, parents, co-workers, bosses, and teachers, and even lash out at others. Issues comprehending language and choosing the correct words can also lead to problems with communication and can lead to strained relationships. Behavioral problems that can happen in untreated dyslexia may lead to social ostracization, anxiety, and feelings of low self-worth, which are all present in depression.
Problems reading and comprehending language will haunt them. These people will be at a substantial educational, social, and economic disadvantage. All of these stresses can also trigger depression in at-risk people, especially as they enter their teen and young adult years.
What are the symptoms of depression?
- Feelings of low self-worth, guilt, and self-loathing
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive sadness
- Increased irritability
- Trouble sleeping and eating
- Weight loss or gain
- Suicidal thoughts and gestures
What are the treatment methods for dyslexia and depression?
Dyslexia and depression are two entirely different disorders, but dyslexia can trigger and worsen depression symptoms. While depression is a mental health condition that can be treated with talk therapy and medication, dyslexia is a learning disability that requires educational intervention.
Teens with dyslexia need a unique, individual education plan or IEP to address their learning difficulties and help them learn how to read and process language. Psychological testing can help educators develop a customized IEP for the student. Educators may use different techniques that involve the student’s other senses to help them improve their language and reading skills.
For instance, teachers may give the student a recording of a lesson to listen to, and have them trace the shape of the letters and words used with their finger, instead of writing the letters with a pencil or pen. These different techniques can help the student process and remember the information better. Giving the student the educational tools they need to make progress can also increase their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth and confidence. In turn, those positive feelings can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.
Depression from the stress of dealing with dyslexia can be effectively treated with a combination of techniques. For adults and adolescents, talk therapy is usually sufficient for alleviating depression symptoms. Severe cases of depression may require pharmacological intervention, or deep brain stimulation techniques if a person is severely depressed. Before people can improve their reading abilities, they must be safe and free from harmful, suicidal thoughts. Parents who suspect their teen is suffering from dyslexia and depression symptoms can contact the experienced mental health professionals at Pulse TMS today to explore their options for treating depression.