Depression & Anxiety

While most people with Duchenne are not depressed or anxious, there is an increased chance when compared to others their age. Depression is different from normal feelings of sadness in that it is more pervasive, longer lasting (weeks to months instead of a day here or there), and powerful (significantly interferes with daily activities, relationships, and goals). Below are some signs that people with Duchenne may be experiencing depression or anxiety.

Signs of depression

  • Loss of enjoyment or loss of interest in things they would typically enjoy
  • Physical symptoms (e.g. headaches, stomach aches)
  • Irritability, moodiness, or aggression
  • Less patience or lower frustration tolerance
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence
  • Overly sensitive or tearful
  • Feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor concentration, memory, or decision making
  • Changes in work habits or schoolwork
  • Changes in appetite or energy level

Signs of anxiety

  • Significantly worried or fearful
  • Tense or uptight
  • Jittery or trembling
  • Experiencing chest pains, problem catching their breath, stomach aches, headache, or dizziness (though these may also be signs of a serious medical problem, so you should always notify a healthcare provider about any of these symptoms)
  • Problems separating from parents or other family members

Younger children are more likely to show symptoms of irritability, aggression, over-sensitivity, or physical complaints, and do not always seem outwardly depressed. Most children have difficulty describing their emotions or identifying the cause of their distress. Therefore, they may not always be able to answer questions about how they are feeling or why.

Interventions for depression & anxiety

  • Depression and anxiety can be very serious conditions and should be treated by mental health professionals.
  • Mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety may respond well to psychotherapy.
  • More severe cases may also require psychiatric consultation and possibly medication.

Information in this section was contributed, in part, by James Poysky, PhD. Read Dr. Poysky’s entire document, Learning and Behavior in Duchenne (download).