People with learning disabilities can suffer from the same mental illnesses as the rest of the population. However, there are some important differences.
Most major mental illnesses are approximately three times as common in people with learning disabilities. This also applies to less serious mental disorders.
The manifestations and symptoms of mental disorders are generally similar in presentation, but can also be very different, especially in people with more severe levels of learning disability and fewer verbal skills, where diagnosis is guided more by changes in behaviour.
How we support people with this diagnosis:
Even in those with milder levels of disability, the person's description of his or her experiences can be more subtle due to the service user's cognitive and communication limitations. This means we must pay closer attention and place more importance on smaller changes.
One of the most important differences in management of mental disorder in people with a learning disability is that medication needs to be used more cautiously, as side-effects are often more common and can also be difficult for the service user to report.