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Variables Associated with Anxiety and Depression in Children with Autism

  • Susan Dickerson Mayes
  • Susan L. Calhoun
  • Michael J. Murray
  • Jahanara Zahid
Original Article

Abstract

Mothers of 627 children with autism (ages 1–17, IQs 16–146) completed the Pediatric Behavior Scale. Maternal ratings of anxiety and depression increased with age and IQ, but were unrelated to gender, parent occupation, and race. Anxiety and depression were highly correlated with each other and with autism severity, somatic complaints, mood disturbance, and social problems. Remaining correlations with behavior problems, attention deficit, hyperactivity, and sleep problems were small. The strongest combined predictors of anxiety and depression were autism severity, verbal IQ, and age, explaining 25% and 23% of the variance. Findings suggest that anxiety and depression have a direct link with autism (increasing with autism severity) and a developmental component (increasing with age and IQ). Anxiety is present in most children with autism and depression is present in about half. Therefore, all children with autism should be screened for anxiety and depression and treated if indicated. Controlled studies are needed to determine what interventions are effective in reducing anxiety and depression in autism.

Keywords

Anxiety Depression Autism Age IQ 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Autism Speaks (Grant #2529) and the Children’s Miracle Network for their support of this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Dickerson Mayes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan L. Calhoun
    • 1
  • Michael J. Murray
    • 1
  • Jahanara Zahid
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPenn State College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry H073Milton S. Hershey Medical CenterHersheyUSA

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