When talking about disabled, most will think of someone with a visible disability. Perhaps a person in a wheelchair or someone with a white cane. However, the word disability has so much spectrum in it. That means that not all disabilities are visible. When the disabilities are visible, people have more credibility. People with invisible disability are often accused of imagining things. It’s not that uncommon that they get diagnosed in later stages of their lives because no one believed them, so they start believing that they’re imagining it.

Invisible disabilities are a real thing. But what does it mean?

An invisible disability is any disability that is not obvious when you see a person. The symptoms vary depending on the type of disability. Invisible disability can be chronic pain, chronic fatigue, mental illness or chronic dizziness. It is estimated that 10% of people in the U.S. have a medical condition which could be considered a type of invisible disability. They are as follows:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Allergies
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Brain injuries
  • Charcot­Marie­Tooth disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Endometreosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Food allergies
  • Fructose malabsorption
  • Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Lupus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Major depression
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Personality disorders
  • Primary immunodeficiency
  • Psychiatric disabilities
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schnitzler’s Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjagren’s syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Transverse Myelitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • and others

The position of people with invisible disability in society is changing for the better. Governments and school boards have implemented screening tests to identify students with learning disabilities, as well as other invisible disabilities, such as vision or hearing difficulties, or problems in cognitive ability, motor skills, or social or emotional development. There are special programs that help kids with invisible disabilities that will help them grow and progress.

About 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability. 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible. 25% of those people face some sort of limitations in their everyday life because of their disability.

The first step with an invisible disability is recognizing it. Many people don’t seek medical help because people around them don’t take their problems seriously. However, if you feel that something is not right, you should seek professional help.