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Depression affects 20 percent of young adults with autism

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Depression affects almost 20 percent of young adults with autism, a new research has revealed, a rate that’s more than triple that seen in the general population.

And young adults with autism who were relatively high-functioning — meaning they did not have intellectual disabilities– were actually at higher risk of depression than people with more severe forms of autism, British researchers found.

In the study published online on Aug 31 in JAMA Network Open, this higher-functioning subgroup was more than four times as likely to suffer from depression, compared to people without autism. The study was led by Dheeraj Rai, of the University of Bristol.

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In the study, Dheeraj’s group looked at data that tracked almost 224,000 Swedes living in a particular county between 2001 and 2011. A total of 4,073 had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

People with autism without intellectual disabilities “may be particularly prone to depression because of greater awareness of their difficulties,” the researchers theorized.

Tracking the participants’ mental health, the study found that by their mid-to-late 20s, 19.8 percent of people with autism had a history of depression, compared to just 6 percent of those in the general population.

“Given the considerable social struggles that individuals with an autism spectrum disorder experience, it is not surprising that they are at significantly increased risk for depression,” said Dr Andrew Adesman. He directs developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY.

Not all of the increase in risk for depression was caused by genetics, Dheeraj’s group added, because people with autism still had double the odds for depression compared to a full sibling who did not have the disorder.

That suggests that something other than DNA — perhaps the stress of living with autism — may play a role in depression risk.

The finding that autism without intellectual disability carried higher odds for depression highlights the need for earlier diagnosis, the researchers said.

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“Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder, especially those without cognitive impairments, receive a delayed diagnosis, often after experiencing other psychiatric problems,” the study authors wrote.

That can take a big psychological toll, perhaps contributing to depression risk, Rai’s team suggested.

“Individuals receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder later in life often report long-standing stress in relation to social isolation, bullying, exclusion, and the knowledge they are different without the explanatory framework of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder,” the team pointed out.

Agencies

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Diabetes drug might ease heart failure risk

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A new research has showed that the diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure.

According to the findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with their presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Type 2 diabetics who took Farxiga saw their odds of hospitalization for heart failure drop by 27 percent compared to those who took a placebo.

Farxiga is a type of drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor. The compound is called dapagliflozin.

The study included more than 17,000 type 2 diabetes patients aged 40 and older. Nearly 7,000 had heart disease and more than 10,000 had numerous risk factors for heart disease, Wiviott’s group said.

Patients were randomly assigned to take a dummy placebo pill or 10 milligrams of Farxiga each day.

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“When it comes to helping our patients control and manage blood glucose, the ‘how’ appears to be as important [as] the ‘how much,” said study author Dr Stephen Wiviott, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When choosing a therapy, trial results like these can help us make an informed decision about what treatments are not only safe and effective for lowering blood glucose but can also reduce risk of heart and kidney complications,” Wiviott said in a hospital news release.

Taking the drug did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death, the research team noted. However, patients who took the drug did see healthy declines in their blood sugar levels, plus an added bonus: a 27 percent decrease in their risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

Their risk of kidney failure and death from kidney failure also fell, researchers noted.

Two other recent studies of this class of drugs show that they “robustly and consistently improve heart and kidney outcomes in a broad population of patients with diabetes,” Wiviott noted.

With Inputs from HealthDay

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