March 27th 2019
TOKYO — More than 45 percent of respondents to a Mainichi Shimbun survey targeting people with developmental disorders aged 20 and older said they had depression.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, no nationwide survey on comorbidity, or the presence of additional conditions co-occurring with a primary condition, in adults with developmental disabilities had been conducted before and their status was unknown. Experts point out that such people fall victim to bullying and abuse as others do not understand the characteristics of their disabilities.
From January to February, the Mainichi Shimbun requested 62 organizations involved in activities such as providing support for disabled people to carry out surveys on the matter, through the Japan Developmental Disabilities Association, based in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. The questionnaire was also conducted online, covering a total of 1,072 people in their 20s and above altogether.
Of the respondents, 862 had been diagnosed with developmental disabilities, of which 45.5 percent, or 393 people, were diagnosed with depression.
Of these, 24.8 percent suffer social anxiety disorders, panic disorders and other mental disorders characterized by a significant feeling of fear in social situations. Some 24.7 percent suffer dysautonomia, a physical disorder coming from stress — indicating adults with developmental disabilities are subjected to stress in their daily lives.
Furthermore, when asked about their experiences, 71.8 percent had been bullied at school, 45.4 percent had been bullied at their workplace and 33 percent had been abused by their parents or peers. Some 27.4 percent had experienced shutting themselves off from society for at least half a year and 23.2 percent had been absent from school for at least 30 days a year.
The characteristics of developmental disorders were treated as “problematic behavior” for some adults who grew up at a time when such disabilities were not known.
Doctor Akira Iwanami of Showa University Karasuyama Hospital in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward stated, “Cases in which developmental disabilities were the reason someone couldn’t recover despite continuing to receive treatment for symptoms such as depression and schizophrenia are not commonly known.”
Iwanami added, “It’s important to understand that many people (with developmental disabilities) have comorbidities in order to proceed with proper treatment.”