If you have an ASD and think you may have a mental illness but are struggling to get the help you need then consider trying one of these top tips:

  • Write down what you are feeling and bring it to the GP. Communicating can be very difficult but it is important that you get the help you need.
  • Ask someone you trust and can communicate with to go to the GP with you. You can discuss what you want to say beforehand and they can help if you are struggling to say what you need to say.
  • Make use of charities and helplines. They can help you to make a plan for getting help so there is less pressure on you to do it alone.
  • Find an ASD community online where you can ask questions and get advice from someone who has already been there.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders & Mental Health

Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Autistic spectrum disorder is a term used to describe a set of symptoms and behaviors which can affect how those affected understand and react to the world around them. There are three different types of symptoms which can affect those with ASD:

  • Non-verbal and verbal communication can be very difficult. People with an ASD can have difficulty understanding others and communicating themselves. Children with ASD can have problems learning to speak and some do not develop speech. There are other methods which people can use to communicate.
  • Social understanding and behavior can be difficult for those with ASD. It can be difficult to understand the behavior of others and/or how to act themselves in a social situation. It can be hard to empathize with others and understand social contexts meaning it can be hard for children with ASD to play and communicate with other children.
  • Imagining, thinking and behaving flexibly can also be a problem so children with ASD often spend more time playing alone. Toys and activities which a child likes can be pursued obsessively. Change can be difficult to cope with and a routine is very important for those with ASD.

It can be common for those with ASD to develop mental health problems due to the effects that their disorder can have on their life and problems it can cause when communicating with others. We will take a look at some of these in the next section.


The Affect On Mental Health

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Those suffering from OCD experience repetitive thoughts and behaviors which can be upsetting to them. It is more common in people with ASD as they tend to need routine and order which can develop into compulsions (behaviors which have to be done). People with OCD and/or ASD can become very agitated if someone tries to block them from carrying out these behaviors. It can be very difficult for doctors or psychiatrists to tell the difference between OCD and ASD, but if you think you may be suffering from OCD then you should visit your doctor to get further information on how to get help.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are very common in people with ASD and they have a higher rate of anxiety than the general population. The social difficulties faced by those with ASD can input to this as it can be extremely hard for them to describe their symptoms and therefore get the help that they need. The biological differences in the brain can also affect how those with ASD perceive threats and can make them perceive threats as much greater than they are. 

The issues in communicating can cause those with ASD to get caught in a vicious cycle of not being able to effectively communicate their symptoms to get the help they need. 

To combat this it is recommended that a relationship is built with a doctor or therapist  to allow the patient to safely work through their anxiety. 


It is common for people to have periods of feeling low or sad, but when it lasts for longer than a few weeks and causes issues with daily functioning then you may be experiencing depression. Anxiety and depression are often experienced at the same time which can cause people with withdraw and isolate themselves from others. For people with ASD, communicating their feelings can be extremely hard and it can take a long time for them to get the help they need. If you think you are suffering from depression then you should contact your GP to get some more information on how to get help.