A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Fall, 2019 | Number 4, Volume 33

Autism traits elevated in chronic depression

Autistic traits are very common in individuals with chronic depression, according to a new study by researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic. 

Martina Radtke and colleagues tested 31 patients with chronic depression, 27 patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and 31 neurotypical controls, using the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the Empathy Quotient (EQ) to measure autistic traits. The researchers say, “The group of chronically depressed patients showed significantly elevated autistic traits according to both AQ and EQ measures. In addition, 48.4 percent of the patients with chronic depression showed AQ scores within the range of the broader autistic phenotype.” All of the participants with ASD, but only 3.2 percent of the neurotypical controls, had similar scores. 

The researchers say, “The findings illustrate the need for further research to clarify the possible role of autistic traits in the development of chronic depression.” In addition, they say, their findings indicate that it might be useful for clinicians to focus on autistic-like social impairments when providing therapy for people with chronic depression.


“Exploring autistic traits in adults with chronic depression: A clinical study,” Martina Radtke, Denisa Wieczoreková, Claus Normann, Pavel Humpolicek, Eva-Lotta Brakemeier, Emanuel Bubl, Ludger Tebartz van Elst, and Andreas Riedel, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vol. 65, September 2019, 34-45. Address: Martina Radtke, [email protected].