Mood Disorders Are Significantly More Common in ASD

March 08, 2021

And Challenging to Diagnose Due to Atypical Presentation 

A recent British review article published in the International Review of Psychiatry presented a thorough investigation into the occurrence of higher rates of mood disorders in individuals with autism than in the general population. The most common mood disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. The article’s authors wanted to examine this tricky combination of diagnoses due to the heavy toll it can take on the individual, including reduced quality of life and increased mortality through suicide. Through their research, the authors discovered that individuals with autism often encounter difficulties while attempting to obtain an accurate mood disorder diagnosis. This was due to a lack of validated measures and diagnostic tools for people with autism who often present with atypical features of mood disorders. When searching for the causes of mood disorders in people with autism, the researchers found that those roots are likely due to a complicated combination of genetic, cognitive/behavioral, social and physiological/neurobiological factors. While many of these factors may be the same in the general population, for individuals on the spectrum, they are aggravated by neurodevelopmental trajectories and core features of autism. The team also investigated therapies which can assist people facing both disorders. They found that cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapies were the most successful treatments for adults. The article concluded with a call for more research into co-occurring mood disorders in those with autism, especially for bipolar disorder, which the authors feel research is particularly lacking.

Original Study

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