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Looking at mental health after Newtown massacre

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Many are describing the gunman who shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary as socially awkward.

He is believed to have suffered from Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism.  Those suffering from Asperger's can become frustrated more easily, mental health experts say.

What about becoming violent?

Many are trying to make sense of the catastrophe.  Investigators say Adam Lanza opened fire on two classrooms filled with innocent children and their teachers.

Some say Lanza's Asperger's Syndrom could have been behind it.  The 20-year-old was apparently diagnosed years earlier.

"Usually, when people with Asperger's condition will become violent, it's very quick and impulsive.  It's a very quick impulsive act.  It happens within seconds and it's over.  This was something much more unique with this Connecticut incident," Houston psychologist Andrew Brams, M.D., says.

Brams stresses those with Asperger's normally do not become violent.

If you have a loved one suffering from mental illness, get them help before it is too late.  That might include convincing that person that no one will think less of them if they talk to a mental health professional.

"Seeing someone in your life is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's better to be preventative than God forbid, unfortunately it seems reactive in what happened in Connecticut last week," Brams says.

He says some of the signs of mental illness could include:

"Hygiene is a big thing.  You're ability to take care of yourself.  Sleep and appetite disturbance.  A lot of people will isolate themselves, any kind of self-medicating behaviors, such as the use of alcohol or substances," he says.
 
If you believe someone is in need of mental health help, here is one way to approach them.

"Use a lot of ‘I' messages.  Don't ever say you did this and you did that because you'll put them on the defensive.  Say I've noticed the other day you felt this way.  If you're really a close friend another thing you can do go with them.  Say look I'll go with you, man," Brams says.

He says mental illness is not curable, but it's definitely treatable.  He hopes the stigma related to seeking psychological help will soon go away.  It's important to take care of your mind just as you do your body.  It's just that simple.

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