Mental-health treatment void in Colorado

Mental-health treatment void in Colorado

Those with dual diagnoses find funding quirks, gaps in care
Alex Meredith, 29, sorts clothes hangers at his part-time job at Arc Thrift Store in Lakewood. Meredith was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. He also displayed symptoms of mental illness – obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, psychosis and depression.
Alex Meredith draws at the family home in Littleton.
Glossary

Mental illnesses are more common among people with developmental disabilities. But people with dual diagnoses – and their families – find it hard to navigate a splintered system of care. Part of the difficulty is identifying the diagnoses to begin with.
“Science doesn’t divide the brain up as clearly as funding sources do,” says Carl Clark, who heads the Mental Health Center of Denver.
Developmental disabilities are intellectual impairments resulting from conditions that show up during development – generally before age 22. They can include:
Autism spectrum disorder – Showing up in the first three years of life, autism is generally characterized by difficulty forming relationships and impaired verbal ability.
Down syndrome – A genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities. People with Down syndrome often have physical characteristics that include growth delays and low muscle tone.
Cerebral palsy – A neurological disorder that affects muscle movement and coordination. Some people with cerebral palsy have intellectual disabilities.
Fetal alcohol syndrome – Physical and mental deficiencies caused by a mother’s drinking alcohol while pregnant.
Mental Illness can include:
Bipolar disorder – A mood disorder that can cause people to experience periods of depression alternating with feelings of elation or high energy.
Schizophrenia – A brain disorder that can cause people to hear voices or experience delusions, most often negative or paranoid.
Obsessive compulsive disorder – An anxiety disorder, causing unwanted and repetitive thoughts that are often accompanied by a compulsion to repeat behaviors or rituals.
Depression – A mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness and despondency.
Panic disorder – An anxiety disorder that causes episodes of intense fear.
Post-traumatic stress disorder – An anxiety disorder that can develop after a person experiences physical harm or severe emotional trauma, causing symptoms of hypervigilance, fear or stress.
Borderline personality disorder – A mental illness characterized by extreme reactions, impulsive behaviors or an unstable sense of self.

Mental-health treatment void in Colorado

Alex Meredith, 29, sorts clothes hangers at his part-time job at Arc Thrift Store in Lakewood. Meredith was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. He also displayed symptoms of mental illness – obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, psychosis and depression.
Alex Meredith draws at the family home in Littleton.
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