Nav: Home

Tackling bullying could help reduce depression in autistic teens

June 19, 2018

Teenagers with difficulties in social communication, including autism have higher rates of depressive symptoms, especially if they are being bullied.

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.

Dr Dheeraj Rai, Consultant Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Centre for Academic Mental Health said: "We still know very little about why mental health problems are common in autism and what could be done to address them.

"Thanks to the wealth of data collected within the Children of the 90s study, we tracked the development of depressive symptoms in children with autism and autistic features up to the age of 18 years.

"We 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 wellbeing of autistic people."

Alan Emond, Professor of Child Health at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Bristol added: "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."

Dr James Cusack, Director of Science at Autistica, the charity for autism research, said: "Autistic people and families have told us that mental health is their top priority for research. This is not surprising as we know autistic people experience high rates of chronic mental health problems which lead to tragically high rates of suicide. Yet, our knowledge of autism and depression has remained poor.

"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.

"We now urgently need to carefully understand bullying and other traumatic experiences in autistic people as we're now finding they can have a devastating impact.

"As the UK's autism research charity, we will be working hard to ensure that further research on priority areas like this is supported. If we can improve the mental health of autistic people we can go a long way to ensuring they can live the long, healthy, happy life they deserve."
-end-
Notes

1. Paper: Association of Autistic Traits with Depression from Childhood to Age 18 Years by Dheeraj Rai, Iryna Culpin, Hein Heuvelman, Cecilia Magnusson, Peter Carpenter, Hannah J Jones, Alan Emond, Stanley Zammit, Jean Golding and Rebecca M Pearson published in Jama Psychiatry.

2. Based at the University of Bristol, Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health-research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. It has been following the health and development of the parents and their children in detail ever since and is currently recruiting the children and the siblings of the original children into the study. It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol. Find out more at http://www.childrenofthe90s.ac.uk.

3. This study was funded by The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund.

4. This study was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Bristol Biomedical Research Centre a partnership between University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol. NIHR was established by the Department of Health and Social Care to:
  • fund high quality research to improve health
  • train and support health researchers
  • provide world-class research facilities
  • work with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step


For further information, visit the NIHR website http://www.nihr.ac.uk.

University of Bristol

Related Depression Articles:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.
Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.
Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.
Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.
A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.
Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.
Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.
Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.
Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.
CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.