Is depression a Common Mental Health Problem in Autistic People?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with symptoms which include lack of communication, trouble understanding non-verbal cues, lack of cognitive skill, evade socializing or making friends, the dependence on fixed routines and high sensitivity towards changes. Early the diagnosis and intervention, the better the outcome!           

Individuals with autism experience mental syndromes such as anxiety, depression, recurring seizures, and mood fluctuations. Parents are often unaware of how to prevent or treat depression as they avoid seeking help out of fear of exposing their children. This contributes to a large proportion of children with autism for not being treated for autism and depression.


Children with autism experience bouts of depression as they are not able to convey their wants or desires to others.  Many kids with autism find difficulty in describing the symptoms or the difficulties that they experience. Due to the inability to do so, they develop depression where they confine themselves in their rooms. They may also at times get aggressive and retort with a violent act.  As the depression lasts for a few days, it gets in the way of the children’s day-to-day functioning. Children who are depressed experience a range of symptoms which can vary from being mild or severe.

Autism and Depression

Mood disorders appear to be common in children and adults with developmental disabilities. As many individuals with autism have limited or no communication ability, they may not be able to say how they feel. Other symptoms that occasionally flag depression are, changes in appetite, sleep disorder (increased or decreased), drop in energy or stamina, and a complete decrease in interests.

Autism and depression are linked to suicidal tendencies. It is important for parents and caregivers to address the possibility of suicidal tendencies. Autism Connect helps in educating parents about the importance of handling the possibility of suicidal tendencies in individuals with autism.

Parents must look-out for changes in their children’s behavior to notice if they are not acting like their usual self. Signs and facial expressions can often be confused with the symptoms of depression. Common signs of depression, such as looking dejected or sad, not enjoying their favorite show or game, are things that need immediate concern. Other emotional symptoms like guilt, hopelessness, and suicidal inclinations thoughts also require a Psychological Intervention

Treatments for Depression

Treatments for depression can be medical (medicine for symptoms like insomnia or sleep disorder) combined with psychological intervention for a person with autism. It is important to get the medicine prescribed by a registered practitioner. Psychological interventions along with various forms of therapies are effective in treating problems like depression and anxiety in people with autism. Creative therapies like music therapy and art therapy are effective for improving social and communication skills. Applied behavior analysis also helps in treating depression in children.   

Autism Connect educates the parents about autism, understanding the risk factors and identifying specific mental distresses and disorders. Accordingly, they also guide the parents as to where to seek psychological interventions in countries, states, and cities across the globe. 


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