Tackling Bullying Could Help Reduce Depression in Autistic Teens

Posted on June 21, 2018

Researchers at the University of Bristol, using questionnaire, clinic and genetic information on 6091 young people from the Children of the 90s longitudinal study, found that children with autism and those with autistic traits had more symptoms of depression when they were 10 years old than their peers and that this continued at least up to the age of 18. Children with difficulties in social communication were also more likely to have a diagnosis of depression at 18 and the findings suggest an increased risk for those who suffered from bullying. The researchers did not find any link between having higher genetic tendencies towards autism and depressive symptoms.

It was found that these children have more depressive symptoms than their peers at age 10 and these continue through adolescence to age 18, especially in children who reported being bullied. More research needs to be done to understand other pathways contributing to the risk of depression in autism across the life course, but these findings suggest that focusing on the role of traumatic experiences such as bullying and interventions targeting these, could be important and may have the potential to make a real difference to the well-being of autistic people.

Bullying can be detrimental to anyone's mental health, but young people with social communication difficulties and other autistic traits seem to be particularly vulnerable. To protect autistic children and young people a whole school approach is needed to prevent bullying, coupled with targeted support for vulnerable individuals.

This excellent study tells us that symptoms of depression are elevated in autistic adolescents. The authors found that it was bullying rather than genetic differences which drove an increase in depressive symptoms in autistic people. It is now urgently needed to carefully understand bullying and other traumatic experiences in autistic people as we're now finding they can have a devastating impact.


Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Depression

Source material from Science Daily


Mental Health News