Psychiatric Co-occurring Symptoms and Disorders in Young, Middle-Aged, and Older Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2016 Jun;46(6):1916-1930. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2722-8.


Although psychiatric problems are less prevalent in old age within the general population, it is largely unknown whether this extends to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We examined psychiatric symptoms and disorders in young, middle-aged, and older adults with and without ASD (Nmax = 344, age 19-79 years, IQ > 80). Albeit comparable to other psychiatric patients, levels of symptoms and psychological distress were high over the adult lifespan; 79 % met criteria for a psychiatric disorder at least once in their lives. Depression and anxiety were most common. However, older adults less often met criteria for any psychiatric diagnosis and, specifically, social phobia than younger adults. Hence, despite marked psychological distress, psychiatric problems are also less prevalent in older aged individuals with ASD.

Keywords: Adults; Aging; Anxiety; Autism spectrum disorder; Depression; Psychiatric comorbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult