Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

The Link Between Anxiety and Aspergers

"Why does it seem that most people with AS also have a great deal of anxiety?"

One explanation (among several) may have to do with abnormal levels of cortisol. Cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) may be a key component to understanding Aspergers, according to researchers.

It is one of a family of stress hormones that acts like a ‘red alert’ that is triggered by stressful situations, allowing a person to react quickly to changes around him or her.

In “typical” people, there is a 2-fold increase in levels of this hormone within 30 minutes of waking up, with levels gradually declining during the day as part of the internal body clock. One study found that people with Aspergers don’t have this peak.

This difference in stress hormone levels may be very significant in explaining why the “Aspie” is less able to react and cope with unexpected change. These findings are crucial, as they give us a better understanding about how some of the symptoms we see in Aspergers are linked to how the individual adapts to change at a chemical level.

The study suggests that a person with the disorder may not adjust normally to the challenge of a new environment on waking, and this may affect the way he or she subsequently engages with the world as the day wears on.

The researchers hope that by understanding the symptoms of Aspergers as a stress response (rather than a social-skills deficit or some type of behavioral problem), it could help therapists develop strategies for avoiding situations that can cause anxiety in people with the disorder.

The next step in the research will be to look at whether people with other types of autism also lack a peak of cortisol after waking.

Craig sates, "I can really relate to this. By 4 pm, my anxiety is usually off the charts with no direct correlation to any particular event. That was when I would start thinking of going to Happy Hour or something to stop that internal suffocating feeling. Hard to describe." 

Resources:

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples & Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples [eBook and Audio]

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