depression hypothesis

Avatar for littleroses
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
depression hypothesis
Thu, 09-25-2003 - 4:35pm
According to a recent study at the Duke University Medical Center, some cases of autism may be associated with a family history of depressive illness. Autism, a disorder marked by social withdrawal and an inability to interact with the environment, seems to appear more frequently in families with a strong history of bipolar illness, the study found. In connection with his study of 40 autistic children, Duke researcher Dr.Robert DeLong reported in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology that in 14 of the cases reviewed there was a strong family history of depression or manic depressive illness.

The study hypothesized that when manic depression strikes in early infancy, it may blunt the child's cognitive, social, and emotional development irreversibly, so that the child's brain never develops the framework in which to build communications skills. In extreme cases, this may lead to clinical autism. (Reprinted from the National DMDA Newsletter, vol. 7, no. 1)


culled from


although I did not verify this was indeed a Duke University study, I really found it an interesting idea. I come from a family that is rife with depression. I have 30 first cousins, half of which have attempted suicide. 10 of my cousins are still children so hopefully they don't go through that. The rest who have not attempted suicide are addicts of one kind or another. There are one or two like myself who have escaped this altogether. My grandmother died at age 46 from alcoholism. Many of my family haven't made it to age 50. My kids have never seemed depressed in any way or at any age, but it sure was an interesting correlation that made me do a double take, so to speak, considering my family history. Despite this idea, I don't feel this is the cause of my daughter's ASD, but, again, is an interesting study. I am always looking to mull over new ideas.