Variables Associated with Anxiety and Depression in Children with Autism

Susan Dickerson Mayes, Susan L. Calhoun, Michael J. Murray, Jahanara Zahid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Mothers of 627 children with autism (ages 1-17, IQs 16-146) completed the Pediatric Behavior Scale. Maternal ratings of anxiety and depression increased with age and IQ, but were unrelated to gender, parent occupation, and race. Anxiety and depression were highly correlated with each other and with autism severity, somatic complaints, mood disturbance, and social problems. Remaining correlations with behavior problems, attention deficit, hyperactivity, and sleep problems were small. The strongest combined predictors of anxiety and depression were autism severity, verbal IQ, and age, explaining 25% and 23% of the variance. Findings suggest that anxiety and depression have a direct link with autism (increasing with autism severity) and a developmental component (increasing with age and IQ). Anxiety is present in most children with autism and depression is present in about half. Therefore, all children with autism should be screened for anxiety and depression and treated if indicated. Controlled studies are needed to determine what interventions are effective in reducing anxiety and depression in autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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