What does co-morbid mean?
Clarifying a definition of comorbid.
In following discussions on my favorite autism forums I often see somebody’s post saying
” autism is comorbid with depression” or they will name any other diagnosis and say “autism is comorbid withthis or these other diagnoses. This is so confusing and shows me that the person making the statement does not understand what comorbid means.
Comorbid simply means that the other diagnosis is present in the same person … autism with diabetes, autism with bipolar, autism with anxiety, or autism with depression for example. Both diagnoses are present.
Diabetes comorbid with depression, anxiety comorbid with hairy nose syndrome (I made that one up to make a point)… can be comorbid in an individual. It simply means the diagnosis of each is sharing the body of the individual.
It (the term comorbid) does not apply to the diseases themselves, it applies to the person who is diagnosed with them.
It is not about interrelation of diseases or their actions upon each other, comorbid means they share presence in the same singular body/person.
There is no connection between autism and those diagnoses, they are simply present in the same person.
Autism does not cause these shared diagnoses, and it is not a feature which is always present with the other diagnosis .
Autism is sometimes present in people who have certain genetic or neurological syndromes, but the definition of comorbid only means that the different diagnosed syndromes or diseases, neurological conditions, mental illnesses, etc are found in the same person. Co morbid= shared within the same person .
In any one person’s body any diagnosed conditions will be comorbid. This does not mean that one is a symptom or caused by the other and the shared diagnoses are not common to everybody with autism or any other diagnosed condition.
I am aware of perseveration in my repeated explanations. I am not sure my explanations have been clear enough to help others who might be confused about comorbid’s definition to understand.
I have been very frustrated to see the continual discussion of ” comorbid diagnoses” where comorbid is misunderstood and used to mean something entirely different. I wish I had included this in my original glossary of commonly used terms surrounding talk about autism. There, I feel better now.