Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in adults with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis [2019]

• Psychiatric disorders in adults with ASD is a very important issue to be addressed.

• ADHD is the most prevalent mental diagnosis in adults with ASD.

• Mood and anxiety disorders are also frequent.

• Substance use and eating disorders show the less prevalence in adults with ASD.

• There is a risk of diagnosis overlap among this population.

Some challenges faced by people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when adapting to a neurotypical environment are related with the risk of suffering a psychiatric disorder. The aim of the present study is to conduct a systematic review on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in adults with ASD (PROSPERO’s reference number CRD42016041948). Four databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science and CINAHL) were used for the electronic search, and six editorials (Science Direct, Wiley, Springer, Taylor & Francis, SAGE Publishing and BioMed Central) were manually searched for studies not previously identified. Study eligibility criteria were observational studies on psychiatric comorbidity in adults (18 years or older) with ASD, based on standard diagnostic classifications (DSM/ICD), reported in English peer-reviewed journals. A total of 1288 and 24 references were identified by electronic and manual searches, respectively. Results showed that attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is the most prevalent psychiatric disorder in adults with ASD. Mood and anxiety disorders are also very frequent among this population. The lowest comorbidity prevalence rates of all diagnostic categories are the ones related to substance use and eating disorders. These results show a need for a greater production of studies in this field, especially follow-up studies that focus on risk and protective factors for the emergence of psychiatric problems in adults with ASD. For this reason, it is imperative to create specific diagnostic tools that allow the assessment of mental pathology, attending to the particularities of its manifestation in people with ASD.

Jorge Lugo-Marín, María Magán-Maganto, Amado Rivero-Santana, Leticia Cuellar-Pompa, Montserrat Alviani, Cristina Jenaro-Rio, Emiliano Díez, Ricardo Canal-Bedia
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volume 59, March 2019