Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that changes how the brain and body develop. It is due to an extra chromosome, 21, in the body that makes the baby extraordinary. 

In honour of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, let us learn more about the people suffering from this syndrome, their stories, the stereotypes and misconceptions resulting in the mental health issues they have to wrestle with daily.

Living with Down syndrome

Some of the biggest misconceptions regarding individuals dealing with Down syndrome are that they are happy all the time, don’t live a “normal” long life like others, and their existence is not of much value since they can’t actively contribute to society. These are all conservative and baseless notions. 

In the 1940s, a child with this syndrome would have had a life expectancy of 12 years, but in the modern age of evolved medicine, their life expectancy is now 60 years, which is a significant increase! They have regular jobs, romantic relationships, lasting friendships and are actively contributing to society. Unfortunately, due to prejudice and unawareness, their fellow employers often think of them as incapable of various tasks, due to their disability. Whereas little do they know, they have a wide range of talents. It is baffling to see that people are still unaware of the capabilities and challenges of individuals with D.S. in an era of modernity and technology. Despite possible health problems, intellectual and developmental delays, they can live an independent, emotionally rich and whole adult life. Of course, environmental, social, and cultural factors do play a role in future success, but that is a significant issue with adulthood in general, too. 

Also, contrary to popular belief, it would be wrong to say that people with D.S. are happy all the time. They experience a wide range of emotions such as excitement, sadness and anger, to name a few, just like the rest of us. People with D.S. are at a higher risk of mental illnesses. At least half of all individuals with Down Syndrome face various mental-health issues in their life. Symptoms of disorders like depression, ADHD, OCD or autism spectrum are common. Until recently, people thought it was rare, if not impossible, for someone with D.S. to have a dual diagnosis or co-morbidity in the context of autism. However, presently it is widely accepted that the two conditions can co-exist. 

Psychosocial and environmental factors can be exceedingly stressful for children and individuals with Down’s syndrome. Illness or the loss of a loved one or a relative is quite traumatic. It almost always triggers a complicated reaction as a result of grief manifesting itself. The individual may experience a regressive shift in their thinking, reasoning, remembering, processing of information, and learning abilities. Psychosocial and environmental causes can cause generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, depression, and difficulty sleeping. Weight loss, poor self-care, and lack of motivation are all linked. This is imperative for parents, teachers, employers or friends to be aware of. 


I hope you have made yourself more aware of the mental health issues and common misconceptions regarding people with Down Syndrome. It is essential to shed light on their exceptional abilities and celebrate them as well. Some of them are:

  • Self-talking: This is pervasive in individuals with D.S. and is a normal and healthy way to process emotions and plays a significant role in cognitive development.
  • Visual Memory: Some have a fantastic memory for people, places and events which can also be called a photographic memory.
  • High capacity for empathy and social understanding.

Lauren Potter is remarkably talented in acting and theatre, and there are various other incredible poets, too. All these talents should be nurtured, encouraged and admired. 

Although many people with Down syndrome have significant cognitive delays and other physical problems. They have a wide range of talents, and each person grows at their own rate. Even if they are behind in their development, many reach significant developmental milestones and live joyful and enriching lives. Further research on mental health elements of Down syndrome is very much needed in today’s time. However, people becoming more aware of mental health issues is a good sign for the future. 

P.S. Please click on the link below and read some of the stories by the individuals with Down syndrome and their families:

Written By- Dev

Categories: Blogs