People with AS and NLD often are depressed as I wrote in a recent blog. It’s a combination of the impact of difficult life experiences and sometimes a predisposition to clinical depression. When depression significantly interferes with daily life, professional help is necessary. If it’s not that incapacitating, self care strategies can help significantly. Best, they’re generally free and portable.
Strategies I use myself and recommend include:
- Exercise. Exercise is proven to help depression and anxiety. Find some kind of exercise you can tolerate and do it regularly.
- Be sure you’re eating and sleeping healthfully. If you’re not taking good care of your body, you’re not taking care of your mind and your emotional life.
- Be in nature. Research has shown that being outside in nature actually helps reduce stress.
- Get out and do what you would normally do. Even if this feels forced, participating in work or activities is important.
- Don’t self-isolate. Spend time with friends, or consider some kind of social activity.
- Keep a gratitude journal; it helps us remember that there are positives in life, even small ones.
- Meditation has been scientifically documented to help anxiety, and it can also help ride out those super emotional moments.
- Learn a skill that’s a basic part of cognitive therapy: talk back to negative thinking. Say something like, “I can deal with this,” “I’m not a failure, I’ve had many things go well,” “I do many things well,” or whatever might work for you.
- Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence made an app called Mood Meter. It helps you define your feelings, helps you recognize the trigger, and offers strategies for feeling better. You can add your feel-better strategiesso it works best for you.
Loneliness is depressing. Here’s ideas for finding a social activity:
- Find an activity involving their interests, in school or an extra-curricular activity.
- Sometimes there are places that have activity-based social groups for AS kids, like bowling.
- Join a group like boy scouts or girl scouts or a church group IF there is a facilitator willing to help the child integrate into the group.
- Backstage work in theater or actually participating in a theater class teaches social behavior and perspective taking via scripted roles.
- Find an activity group in an area of interest..
- Meetups https://www.meetup.com help find others sharing your interests or experiences. On Meetup look under an interest area or under health and wellness, where groups there can be groups specifically for people on the spectrum https://www.meetup.com/topics/asperger-syndrome/Or create a meetup group: https://secure.meetup.com/create/
- Reddit has specific communities for Asperger’s. There’s resources and chat rooms both on general experiences andspecific issues like social skills and dating. https://www.reddit.com/search?q=Aspergers
- Wrong Planet https://wrongplanet.nethas discussion forums as well as articles that might be helpful or interesting.
- Facebook has groups and pages for people with Aspergers, such as Aspergers Support Network, Asperger Syndrome Support Group, Aspergers safe room: a safe haven for women on the autism spectrum, and Asperger’s Experts (a Facebook page)..
If you join a forum or chat group, be sure it’s constructive. As with anything online, there can be sites or groups where people vent or share ideas that might be unhelpful for someone wanting to feel better and have a better life experience.
Major depression is treatable with medication and therapy. Self-care and self-help can help people cope and manage. Developing healthy habits is possible if someone is determined, even if it’s difficult. Making social connections is important to everyone. Whether locally or online, interest based or shared experience based, having social connections helps loneliness and a major factor underlying depression for both NTs and for those with AS.