'It's like an itch and I want to get it away but it's still there': understandings and experiences of anxiety and depression among young people with intellectual disabilities

Kirsten Stalker, Andrew Jahoda, Alastair Wilson, Anja Cairney

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This paper reports findings from a study funded by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities which aimed to explore experiences of anxiety and depression among 17 young people with learning disabilities in Scotland. A series of unstructured interviews were conducted with the young people while one semi-structured interview took place with their families and/ or with relevant professionals. The young people talked about their distress in various ways, including medical terms, bodily sensations, feelings and emotions, behaviours, and specific fears. Those who could identify the cause(s) of their distress referred to stressful life events, troublesome medical conditions, difficulties negotiating the transition to adulthood and social isolation. The young people said relatively little about what helped reduce their distress: a few had good formal or informal support while others had tried to develop their own coping strategies. The findings are discussed in relation to social crisis theory. Policy and practice implications are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-326
Number of pages16
JournalScandinavian Journal of Disability Research
Issue number4
Early online date25 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • young people
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health
  • user views

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