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Depression Rates High in Adults with ASD

Date Published: 
March 12, 2018

A new analysis has found that 40 percent of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience depression at some point during their lifetime. The depression rate is 7.7 percent for youth with autism who are aged 18 and under.1

These results appeared this month in "Prevalence of Depressive Disorders in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Meta-Analysis" in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. For this article, three researchers at Queen's University in Canada examined dozens of published studies about depression in children, teenagers, and adults with autism.

According to their analysis, depression appears to more commonly diagnosed in people with ASD of at least average intelligence. They examined "unipolar" depression, that is, depression that is not part of bipolar disorder.

"Compared to typically developing individuals, individuals with ASD are 4 times more likely to experience depression in their lifetime. These results suggest that individuals with ASD should be regularly screened and offered treatment for depression," according to that journal article.1

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of depression in youth and adults with autism, please see IAN's depression series, which includes Diagnosing Depression in Autism and Diagnosis: Depression. Now what?


  1. Hudson, C. C., Hall, L., & Harkness, K. L. (2018). Prevalence of depressive disorders in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,

Photo credit: Ben White, Unsplash