SOURCE: Family Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Almajmaah University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the presence of depression and anxiety in parents/caregivers of autistic spectral disorder (ASD) children, and to identify associated factors.
METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study carried out between July and December 2011, parents/caregivers of at least one child diagnosed with an ASD (cases group), were recruited through the Saudi Charitable Society of Autism Families and the Autism Clinic in the Pediatric out-patient clinic in King Fahad National Guard Hospital, King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The parents/caregivers of a normally developed child (control group) were recruited from the Well Child Clinic at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh. We used a self-reported questionnaire containing questions on demographic data, as well as the Arabic version of the hospital anxiety and depression scale.
RESULTS: The study included 100 parents/caregivers, 50 cases and 50 controls. More than 50% of the control group was in the age group 26-30 years (56%), while 42% of cases were in the age group 31-35 years. Time lapsed since autism diagnosis was over 3 years in one-third of cases. Twenty-two percent of cases, and only 2% of control parents/caregivers had a history of psychiatric problems (p=0.002). Both the mean depression score, and the mean anxiety score was significantly higher among cases when compared with controls, p<0.001.
CONCLUSION: Autism is associated with burden and stress for parents/caregivers of the affected child. The demands placed by the disability contribute to a higher overall incidence of depression and anxiety among parents/caregivers.