Depression in youth with autism spectrum disorders: The role of ASD vulnerabilities and family-environmental stressors
Weiss, Jonathan A.
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Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are at an increased risk of mental health problems, with depression being one of the most common presenting issues. The current study used a diathesis-stress model to investigate stressors [parent distress and negative life events (NLE)] and vulnerabilities (youth age and intellectual functioning) as predictors of depressive symptoms in youth with ASD. Parents of youth with ASD (N=91; ages 7 to 25 years) completed online questionnaires about demographic variables, distress, NLE, and youth depression. High parent distress and exposure to 3 or more NLE were associated with symptoms of depression in individuals with ASD. Also, youth with ASD who were younger, or who were noted to have average or above intellectual functioning, were reported to have higher depression levels than other individuals with ASD. None of the vulnerabilities were found to moderate the relationships between stressors and depression.