A "co-occurring" disorder refers to two or more conditions that occur within one person. As much as 35% of people with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) have a psychiatric disorder, according to the “Diagnostic Manual – Intellectual Disability: A Textbook of Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in Persons with Intellectual Disability, Second Addition” (DM-ID-2).
People with IDD experience the same types of behavioral health disorders as other people. Common co-occurring disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, personality disorders, major neurocognitive disorders and stereotypic movement disorders, among others.
People with IDD experience trauma, including abuse and neglect, at higher rates than the general population. They are also at increased risk of developing more severe post-traumatic stress symptoms when exposed to the same traumatic event, according to the DM-ID-2.
People with IDD are often defined by their behavior. Recognizing that their behavior is a form of communication and not a symptom of disability is crucial to understanding and meeting their needs. The co-existence of a psychiatric disorder can have serious effects on a person's daily functioning and can greatly reduce their quality of life. If a person's behavior is attributed to their disability, their behavioral health conditions may go undiagnosed and they may not receive necessary treatment and support.
Wellness and Recovery
Recognizing the behavioral health needs of people with IDD is fundamental in supporting mental wellness. Understanding trauma and using a trauma-informed care approach will support resiliency and recovery.
- Mental Health Wellness for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MHW-IDD) is a free training course for people who support those with IDD and behavioral health needs. Training modules are available for direct service workers and health care professionals.
- The National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD) offers continuing education opportunities for people with IDD and mental health needs.
- The National Association for State Developmental Disability Directors Services offers resources on mental health treatment modalities for people with IDD.
- “The Road to Recovery: Supporting Children with IDD Who Have Experienced Trauma,” available through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is a training guide and manual for providers helping children and families living with IDD and having experienced trauma. The curriculum is also available in Spanish.
- A Trauma-Informed Toolkit for Providers in the Field of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities offers information about trauma, trauma-informed planning and interventions, and wellness and resiliency for people with IDD.
- The HHSC Crisis Services Guide (PDF) provides information on state-funded crisis services and organizations that can help connect people to resources. Crisis services are available 24/7 and include prompt face-to-face crisis assessment, crisis intervention services, crisis follow-up and relapse prevention services.
General Mental Health Resources
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version 5 features the latest updates on mental disorders from more than 200 subject matter experts.
- Trauma-Informed Care Basics Training by the South Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network provides resources and courses to better understand stress, trauma and trauma-informed care.