Prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders among youth with intellectual disabilities: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Affect Disord. 2018 Aug 15;236:230-242. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.04.029. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Background: The purpose of this meta-analytic study was to determine the pooled prevalence estimates of anxiety and depressive disorders among children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities (ID) and to assess the extent to which these pooled prevalence rates differed according to studies' characteristics.

Method: A systematic literature search was performed in nine databases and 21 studies, published between 1975 and 2015, met the inclusion criteria.

Results: The resulting pooled prevalence estimates of combined subtypes of anxiety and depressive disorders were respectively (a) 5.4% and 2.8% across samples; (b) 1.2% and 0.03% among children; and (c) 7.9% and 1.4% among adolescents. Pooled prevalence estimates for specific subtypes of anxiety disorders ranged from (a) 0.2% to 11.5% across samples; (b) 0.7% to 17.6% among children; and (c) 0.6% to 19.8% among adolescents. Pooled prevalence estimates of dysthymic disorder and major depressive disorder were respectively (a) 3.4% and 2.5% across samples; (b) 2.1% and 3.2% among children; and (c) 6.9% and 5.7% among adolescents. Finally, subgroup analyses showed significant variations in the pooled prevalence estimates of combined subtypes of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder; and combined subtypes of depressive disorders.

Limitations: The present findings of this meta-analysis should be interpreted with caution given several limitations related to the characteristics of the populations, diagnostic method and sampling method.

Conclusion: Findings provide recommendations for future studies investigating psychological disorders among youth with ID, as well as how clinicians and policy makers can improve diagnostic practices and support for youth with ID.

Keywords: Diagnostic criteria; Informant; Intellectual disability level; Moderation; Psychological disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Dysthymic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult