Mood symptoms in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders

Luigi Mazzone, Valentina Postorino, Lavinia De Peppo, Laura Fatta, Valeria Lucarelli, Laura Reale, Giulia Giovagnoli, Stefano Vicari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) are psychiatric conditions belonging to the Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), characterized by social dysfunction and focused interest, in the absence of mental retardation. Previous reports suggest that AS/HFA may be associated with important psychiatric comorbidities. Among the psychiatric internalizing disorders, depression and anxiety are probably the most common disorders. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of mood disorders and identifying peculiar clinical features in subjects suffering from AS and HFA. 30 male patients with AS/HFA, 30 male patients affected by Major Depression (MD) and 35 male Typically Developing (TD) comparison were assessed with the CDI and the CDRS-R. Participants' parents were invited to complete the CBCL and the P-YMRS. Moreover, the CGAS was rated by the clinicians. The evaluation of depressive symptoms showed that AS/HFA group reported higher depressive symptoms, as showed by CDI total, CBCL internalizing and CDRS-R total, compared to the TD group. No significant difference of depressive symptoms was found between the AS/HFA and the MD group, with the exception of CDRS-R total score. Moreover, linear regression analysis in the AS/HFA group between CGAS and depressive symptoms revealed that a higher level of depressive symptoms increased the risk of poorer global functioning. These results suggest that the depressive symptoms in AS/HFA patients may be associated with poorer global functioning, with a consequent impairment in their psychological profile and social adjustment, and should alert clinicians to the importance of assessing mood disorders in order to choose the appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3699-3708
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Global functioning
  • Mood symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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