Research Summary: Feeling different from others may be linked to depression in youth with Asperger Syndrome

Research Summary: Feeling different from others may be linked to depression in youth with Asperger Syndrome

by Evguenia Ignatova

What you need to know: Depressive symptoms are common in youth with Asperger Syndrome. Negatively comparing oneself to others may be linked to more depressive symptoms among youth with Asperger Syndrome.

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What is the research about?

Depressive symptoms occur frequently in people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) but there is a lack of research that specifically focuses on depression in this population. Research with people without AS has shown that there is a link between depressive symptoms and negatively comparing oneself to others. Individuals with AS often experience social difficulties and may feel socially isolated due to an awareness of being different from others, when being different is seen in a negative light. The present study looked at the relationship between depressive symptoms and how youth with AS think about themselves in comparison to others.

What did the researchers do?

The researchers asked 36 children and teens with AS in South Australia to complete questionnaires about their feelings and how they think about themselves in comparison to others.

What did the researchers find?

The researchers found youth who negatively compared themselves to others reported more depressive symptoms. Specifically, youth who saw themselves as more dissimilar to others, and reported feeling like they do not belong, reported more depressive symptoms.

How can you use this research?

This research offers insight into ways to treat depression in youth with AS. Interventions aimed at helping youth with AS better understand and accept their differences may be important to promote mental health and well-being.

About the Researcher

Robyn Young is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Flinders University. Darren Hedley is a Researcher in the School of Psychology at Flinders University and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Citation: Young, R. & Hedley, D. (2006). Social comparison processes and depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with asperger syndrome. Autism, 10(2), 139-153.


About the Chair

The Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research is dedicated to studying ways to improve the mental health and well-being of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families in Canada.

The Chair is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, Health Canada, NeuroDevNet and the Sinneave Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by York University.

For more information, visit the Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research website at asdmentalhealth.ca