anxiety disorders and depression in autism


The topic of anxiety and mood disorders in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been covered in many articles published on this site. A further contribution in this regard is provided by a recent work by a group of researchers from the Universities of Warwick, Southampton and the United Kingdom Diagnostic Research Center for Autism. The study assessed the presence of an anxiety or depressive disorder in a sample of adults who asked to be assessed for ASD at a specialized center. To this purpose, participants filled out the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory. In the participants for whom the diagnosis of ASD was confirmed (N = 88) the rates of anxiety and depression disorders were higher than those of participants in whom the diagnosis of ASD was not confirmed (N = 18 , all males), although the mean scores difference was not statistically significant (Welch's F <1.3). A marginal superiority was detected in the group with established diagnosis only for the intensity and pervasiveness of anxiety symptoms. An anxiety disorder, moderate-to-severe, was detected in 37% of adults with ASD, while a depression, still moderate-to-severe, in 46%. The young age, the severity of autistic symptoms and the female gender were factors significantly correlated with the presence of an anxiety disorder. Instead, no variables significantly associated with the onset of depressive symptoms were identified.


- Murray, C., Kovshoff, H., Brown, A., Abbott, P., and Hadwin, J. (2019) Exploring the anxiety and depression profile in individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in adulthood. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 58, 1-8.
- Jones, L., Goddard, L., Hill, E. L., Henry, L. A., & Crane, L. (2014). Experiences of receiving a diagnosis of autism Spectrum disorder: A survey of adults in the United Kingdom. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 3033–3044.
- Beck, A.T., & Steer, R.A. (1993). Beck anxiety inventory manual. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation. - Beck, A.T., Steer, R.A., & Brown, G.K. (1996). Manual for the beck depression inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation. Beesdo, K., Knappe, S., & Pine, D.S. (2009).

Daniela Scuticchio e Marco O. Bertelli