Anxiety and Depression from Adolescence to Old Age in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Mirko UljarevićEmail author
  • Darren Hedley
  • Kitty Rose-Foley
  • Iliana Magiati
  • Ru Ying Cai
  • Cheryl Dissanayake
  • Amanda Richdale
  • Julian Trollor
Original Paper


This study examined age trends in anxious and depressive symptoms, from older adolescence to old age, and explored the association between anxious and depressive symptoms with gender, ASD severity, and socio-economic factors. Two hundred and fifty-five individuals with ASD (151 males, Mage = 33.52 years, SDage = 14.98) took part. More than one-third of participants reported clinically significant anxiety (38.4%) or depression (38%). A slight trend for an increase in the severity of both anxiety and depression from adolescence to middle adulthood, and then a slight decline in older adulthood was found. Female gender and higher ASD severity predicted more anxiety and depression symptoms. Our findings emphasise the need to provide timely assessment and treatment of anxiety and depression in ASD.


Anxiety Depression Autism Age trends Adolescence Adulthood 



We would like to thank all those who participated in all three studies. MU, KRF, RYC, CD, AR and JT acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres program. DH, CD and AR acknowledge the financial support from DXC Technology and the Australian Government Department of Human Services and Department of Defence.

Author Contributions

AR, JT, KR-F, MU and RYC designed the study. MU, RYC and KR-F collected the data. MU conceived of the report and analyzed the data and drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final submitted version of the manuscript.


Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC); Grant Nos. 3.013; 3.016. DXC Technology and the Australian Government Department of Human Services and Department of Defence.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

DH is supported by funding from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the Australian Government Department of Human Services and Department of Defence. The authors declare no other actual or potential conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2019_4084_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirko Uljarević
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Darren Hedley
    • 3
  • Kitty Rose-Foley
    • 2
    • 4
  • Iliana Magiati
    • 5
  • Ru Ying Cai
    • 2
    • 3
  • Cheryl Dissanayake
    • 2
    • 3
  • Amanda Richdale
    • 2
    • 3
  • Julian Trollor
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford Autism CenterStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC)BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Psychological Science, Olga Tennison Autism Research CentreLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry, School of PsychiatryUNSW SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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