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Depression - Clinical Brief

Autism Spectrum Traits are Significantly Associated with Depressive Symptoms

Patients who experience a psychotic experience have an increased risk for suicide ideations.

Author(s): Upthegrove R, Abu-Akel A, et al


Objective: To examine associations between a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and subclinical or clinical psychoses.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants/Methods: The first group (controls) comprised of healthy, non–help-seeking cohort of University students, with the second group (study participants) of those who had their first psychosis episode from an Early Intervention Service group. Validated surveys were used to assess suicide ideation, as well as hopelessness, loss of motivation, and loss of overall expectations.

Results: Data were collected from 480 subjects (381 controls and 99 study participants). Autism spectrum traits were significantly associated with subclinical psychotic experiences, as well as depressive symptoms. In the study group, an increased risk for suicidality, which was mediated through hopelessness, was observed.

Conclusions: An increased association is observed between psychotic events, suicide ideation, and autism spectrum traits.

Reviewer's Comments: This study was interesting in its premise. I am not sure how successfully it translated through. The authors tried to use ICD-9 codes and diagnoses but these are subject to variances in the professionals making the diagnosis. It underscores that many of our autism spectrum children may suffer from other psychological issues that we are not able to ‘unlock' due to lack of communication. This study reinforces why early intervention therapies are so key for these children and adolescents.(Reviewer–S. Thikkurissy, DDS, MS).

Article Reviewed: Autism and Psychosis: Clinical Implications for Depression and Suicide.

Upthegrove R, Abu-Akel A, et al: Schizophr Res; 2017; (August 18): epub ahead of print.