Often, debilitating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can overlap with and even be triggered by dyslexia. Below is some information from Dr. Michael Ryan on how anxiety and depression can be affected by dyslexia.
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Anxiety is the most frequent emotional symptom reported by dyslexic adults. Dyslexics become fearful because of their constant frustration and confusion in school. These feelings are exacerbated by the inconsistencies of dyslexia. Because they may anticipate failure, entering new situations can becomes extremely anxiety provoking.
Anxiety causes human beings to avoid whatever frightens them. The dyslexic is no exception. However, many teachers and parents misinterpret this avoidance behavior as laziness. In fact, the dyslexic’s hesitancy to participate in school activities such as homework is related more to anxiety and confusion than to apathy.
Depression is also a frequent complication in dyslexia. Although most dyslexics are not depressed, children with this kind of learning disability are at higher risk for intense feelings of sorrow and pain. Perhaps because of their low self-esteem, dyslexics are afraid to turn their anger toward their environment and instead turn it toward themselves.
However, depressed children and adolescents often have different symptoms than do depressed adults. The depressed child is unlikely to be lethargic or to talk about feeling sad. Instead he or she may become more active or misbehave to cover up the painful feelings. In the case of masked depression, the child may not seem obviously unhappy. However, both children and adults who are depressed tend to have three similar characteristics:
First, they tend to have negative thoughts about themselves, i.e. a negative self-image.
Second, they tend to view the world negatively. They are less likely to enjoy the positive experiences in life. This makes it difficult for them to have fun.
Finally, most depressed youngsters have great trouble imagining anything positive about the future. The depressed dyslexic not only experiences great pain in his present experiences, but also foresees a life of continuing failure.