Self report add information about experiences of adults with ID and depression

Sigan Hartley, PhD
Waksman Center, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Adults with intellectual disability (ID) experience equal if not higher rates of depression than adults without disabilities. Yet, little is known about what depression looks like or how to assess for depression in adults with ID.

What did you do in your research?
We examined the depressive symptoms reported by 80 adults (average age = 39 years) with mild ID (30 of whom had a current diagnosis of depression) as compared to their professional caregivers. We wanted to understand what types of depressive symptoms adults with ID reported and compare it with the type of depressive symptoms reported by their caregivers.

What did you find out?
Adults with ID reported more symptoms involving depressed emotions and thoughts than their caregivers. This might illustrate the difficulty of persons with ID in conveying their emotions and thoughts to others such as caregivers, but that self-reported questionnaires may be a good option for acquiring such information. In contrast, caregivers reported more physical symptoms than did adults with ID. Therefore, physical symptoms are more readily recognizable and indicative of depressive symptoms by caregivers. The presentation of depression differed based on IQ, age, and whether or not the adult with ID had other mental health problems.

What are the take-home messages?
In order to best assess for depression, it is important to get the perspective of both the adult with ID and their caregivers. Health care providers should be aware that depression could present in different ways based on IQ, age, and presence of mental health problems.

To learn more about these findings contact Sigan Hartley.

Full Journal Article
Mileviciute, I., & Hartley, S. L. (2015). Self-reported versus informant-reported depressive symptoms in adults with mild intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(2), 158–169.