Depression and anxiety in Aspergers. Why?

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03 Aug 2013, 9:40 pm

Willard wrote:
Its actually very simple: Your subconscious knows that it is not capable of juggling and processing all the sensory signals incoming at any given moment and doing so adequately. Knowing that - even when you aren't actually thinking about it - results in a state of near constant stress and anxiety.

You spend your life feeling awkward and uncomfortable, not just when expected to function socially, but ANYTIME OTHER HUMANS ARE PRESENT. You may not be consciously aware of this, but any time other people are close enough that you become aware of their presence, even if they are not engaging you in any social way, your anxiety level automatically increases, just because of the possibility that they might be sending non-verbal signals that you may miss or misread.

Living in a world full of peers whose behaviors are often incomprehensible or illogical, but who hold YOU responsible for your difficulties in understanding their unspoken language, one cannot help but feel constantly on edge, waiting for that next moment when someone will berate you for not responding appropriately to something you didn't even know you were supposed to respond to.

Living under that kind of stress, with no solution in sight, is inevitably going to lead to bouts of depression and nervous exhaustion.


Given that, the resulting self-defating behavioral patterns, a highly analytical and self-conscious / -referential mind that gets in the way of any kind of natural communicative rhythm and a lack of experience and practice (resulting from the coping mechanism of last resort for the stress you described), how do you overcome the lack of meaningful relationships and the sense of futility of living for just yourself? Wait, I forgot to add another complicating factor: a sense of existential loneliness that is often hard to separate from the loneliness caused by said lack of relationships (because you never quite know if you're hoping for something from contact with other people which they can't provide, or if you're simply not "doing it right").


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04 Aug 2013, 12:02 am

btbnnyr wrote:
I don't know what hurt feelings feel like.

:albino: :albino: :albino:


Do you know what denial feels like?

:D



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04 Aug 2013, 12:28 am

I don't know what denial feels like, but I like to say, "I deny all allegations."

:albino: :albino: :albino:


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04 Aug 2013, 1:48 am

I don't know the difference between depression and sadness. Can anyone explain the difference?
I once thought I was depressed but a psychiatrist told me I wasn't depressed, but sad.



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04 Aug 2013, 9:14 am

btbnnyr wrote:
I don't know what denial feels like, but I like to say, "I deny all allegations."

:albino: :albino: :albino:


I can never tell whether those kinds of posts of yours are meant to be genuine or whether this is humor or " being cute". In other words: what are you communicating? How are these statements supposed to be read?


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LookTwice
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04 Aug 2013, 9:21 am

Marybird wrote:
I don't know the difference between depression and sadness. Can anyone explain the difference?
I once thought I was depressed but a psychiatrist told me I wasn't depressed, but sad.


The supposed difference is that sadness is situational and an "appropriate" (in intensity and duration) response to a change in circumstances. Depression is more than sadness in the sense that you can be depressed but not primarily feel sad (although sadness usually plays a role), and sadness is not as debilitating because it doesn't last as long and doesn't give you the sense of futility that comes with depression.
The technical difference as far as doctors/therapists are concerned is that one is a feeling (considered "normal") and the other a condition (not "normal") that can be diagnosed using the criteria in the DSM, for example.


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04 Aug 2013, 11:54 am

Thanks for the explanation LookTwice. It makes sense to me now.



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04 Aug 2013, 12:45 pm

My statements are literal, and it is bad idear to infer non-literal meaning from them.

Also, I have tendency to write whatever pops into mind at moment, so different clauses of same sentence not necessarily connected to make a point.

For eggsample, letz break down this statement, "I don't know what denial feels like, but I like to say, 'I deny all allegations.'"

This statement occurred through this process:

1) I tried to remember feeling of denial, but I couldn't, so I wrote, "I don't know what denial feels like."

2) Then, I remembered that I like to say, "I deny all allegations," whenever someone says that someone did something wrong, so I wrote, "but I like to say, 'I deny all allegations.'"

3) Then, I added three bunny emoticons, because I love bunny emoticon and number three.

:albino: :albino: :albino:


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04 Aug 2013, 6:24 pm

Marybird wrote:
I don't know the difference between depression and sadness. Can anyone explain the difference?
I once thought I was depressed but a psychiatrist told me I wasn't depressed, but sad.



When I was depressed I had other problems with the depression. I am and have always been forgetful; however when I was depressed it was many times worse. Also, I usually have extremely good focus, especially when involved in something I enjoy, like programming. When I was depressed I couldn't focus not even while programming. It felt like my brain was not working.I didn't have issues with insomnia or appetite though many depressed people do. Also, because of sensory issues, I have a general feeling of anxiety after being in a loud crowded store for more than 30min. When depressed this was much worse and happened sooner after entering the store. Even small restaurants that I had no problems with before were difficult.


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04 Aug 2013, 9:27 pm

I forgot to say earlier, I really don't know what hurt feelings feel like.

When people say that their feelings are hurt, I really have no idear what feelings they are feeling.

I think that my emotional functioning is very very very low compared to most people.

I know what anxiety feels like, but I don't know what depression feels like.

I researched anxiety for a year before I understood what anxiety was and what anxiety felt like.

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04 Aug 2013, 10:15 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I don't have much social cognition, so I don't have much social anxiety either.

:albino: :albino: :albino:
I'm the same way. I've experienced minor depression before, though. I've read that some people with ASD have a predisposition to anxiety, much like Callista said regarding uncertainty and sensory processing. I can relate to that sort of anxiety, which often manifests in me to an impairing degree, but not social anxiety.


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05 Aug 2013, 12:04 am

Yeah. While I've had depression and I know what that feels like, I don't really have much experience with social anxiety. It took a long time before I was aware enough of people to understand that there was something to be anxious about; it wasn't long after that that I decided I really didn't care all that much because [insert special interest here] was so much more interesting.

Often times that makes me feel a little distanced from the socially anxious Aspie/HFA group. I'm familiar with bullying and with abuse, but I'm not familiar with worrying about whether I've said the right thing, or whether people like me. I worry more about whether I'll succeed in school, whether I'll disappoint the people who have helped me, or whether I have done, or will do, the right thing. But as to whether people like me... I don't think I really have the mental capacity to think about all of those people, all at once. I might think about whether one person likes me, when I'm directly interacting with them... but if I think they don't like me, I'm unlikely to willingly interact with them in the first place. Even with bullies, I was always more likely to think, "This sucks that this happened to me" instead of "It sucks that they don't like me"... When somebody hurt me it was always just something that happened to me, like getting wet in the rain or tripping and skinning your knee. If I couldn't control it, then I felt almost like they were a painful part of the scenery. I cared more about keeping my own mental equilibrium.


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05 Aug 2013, 3:29 am

Callista, I think that's a great way to deal with it.

Instead of the: "They don't like me, and nobody likes me anyway", you can soon enough get when you've experienced it enough times.



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05 Aug 2013, 11:29 am

Callista wrote:
Yeah. While I've had depression and I know what that feels like, I don't really have much experience with social anxiety. It took a long time before I was aware enough of people to understand that there was something to be anxious about; it wasn't long after that that I decided I really didn't care all that much because [insert special interest here] was so much more interesting.

Often times that makes me feel a little distanced from the socially anxious Aspie/HFA group. I'm familiar with bullying and with abuse, but I'm not familiar with worrying about whether I've said the right thing, or whether people like me. I worry more about whether I'll succeed in school, whether I'll disappoint the people who have helped me, or whether I have done, or will do, the right thing. But as to whether people like me... I don't think I really have the mental capacity to think about all of those people, all at once. I might think about whether one person likes me, when I'm directly interacting with them... but if I think they don't like me, I'm unlikely to willingly interact with them in the first place. Even with bullies, I was always more likely to think, "This sucks that this happened to me" instead of "It sucks that they don't like me"... When somebody hurt me it was always just something that happened to me, like getting wet in the rain or tripping and skinning your knee. If I couldn't control it, then I felt almost like they were a painful part of the scenery. I cared more about keeping my own mental equilibrium.
This is exactly my experience. I just don't take anything personally and withdraw from situations that I feel are hopeless. I wonder if this has to do with having a really rich inner world that outer things don't affect you as much anymore. Concerns about school or being a good person are much more inner-oriented, personal ethics-related concerns than what others think of you.


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05 Aug 2013, 12:47 pm

Maybe my understanding of the matter is incomplete, so I'd be curious what you think about the following.

It seems to me you're understanding social anxiety as a conscious process, however it isn't really so. There are of course conscious thoughts that represent the fear (like "I wonder whether they like me"), but ultimately the fear of and painful experience of rejection, of not being included, is unconscious and primal. Even if you're not good at reading social signals, if people organize themselves into groups, and you appear to be the only one who is suddenly standing alone, it seems obvious that you suddenly are excluded. If people say things like "you're weird / boring / ..." to you, it seems obvious they don't approve of you. If those kinds of things happen to you regularly and don't seem to improve, you'll start developing anxiety around it. So your explanation of "not enough social cognition" doesn't really make sense to me.
Social anxiety also has nothing to do with a conscious decision whether you care about other people's opinions; otherwise social anxiety when interacting with people who have no influence over your life and who you know you'll never see again wouldn't make sense. Having a rich inner life also doesn't protect you from social anxiety because it doesn't negate the fact that you depend on other people and thus on other people's acceptance and approval.

As far as I can see, there are two ways to overcome social anxiety: either you learn how to navigate socially in order to not be rejected so quickly and often (most likely to be successful when achieved at a young age, and very problematic / next to impossible if you have to process social signals consciously and don't find an intuitive approach to it), or you learn that your worth as a person and your right to "be there" is not determined by other people. So the former approach is acquiring experience and more or less technical skill, the latter is learning to trust, learning to feel accepted (and accept yourself) unconditionally (which is near impossible if your parents didn't do that for you first). Typically, it's a combination of those two approaches that enables someone to overcome this type of anxiety.

When it comes to the "no social cognition" argument, I wonder whether it could be interpreted as a lack of insight into the fact that you depend on other people.


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05 Aug 2013, 1:53 pm

I don't understand why it is obvious that _____________ if _____________ .

It is not obvious to me, because I have low social cognition, and I don't have intuitive or analytical understanding of social things.

When people tell me that I am weird, I feel nothing special, and I don't know what is social meaning of people telling me that I am weird.

When people called my name when I was child, I had zero reaction like I was deaf and blind, because I had no implicit social cognition to orient me to social stimuli like people calling my name.

When people post about social or emotional things on WP, I don't understand most of what they post, because my analytical theory of mind is also low.

This is how I am due to my autistic trait of low social cognition.

:albino: :albino: :albino:


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