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Depression and Autism: More Evidence Points to Physiological Not Psychological

Cause-of-depression-gutBy Teresa Conrick

Many people think depression is feeling bad about a situation. It can be that, but many times, it is a biological happening.  A recent study hitting the news noted this about autism:

Nearly 1 in 5 autistic young adults have history of depression: study

The study seemed to have many participants but seemed to have a bit of a slant in they asked specifically -- “ particularly in the context of bullying.

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

….Not all of the increase in risk for depression was caused by genetics, Rai'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…

"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 ….Peng also believes more research is needed to tease out the experiences and stigmas that may contribute to depression in young people with autism.

Bullying is an important concern and should be discussed more in autism.  Adults need to be on the look-out for bullying in children, especially at school, and teaching compassion in the community and in the classroom is imperative.  I agree, but looking at the context of depression, it may be important to scratch more below the surface.

Studies are multiplying for years now showing that there is a definite connection to depression and the gut microbiome.  Go on Pubmed and you will see hundreds of studies about depression and the microbiome.  Type in “autism depression microbiome” and you will see 54 studies and more being done each month.  It is THE cutting edge research that is changing the whole paradigm of the DSM :

In attempting to build a scientific psychology, Freud and others within the psychoanalytical school of thought placed a great emphasis on unconscious processes in human psychology….However, until relatively recently, there has been little research integrating the study of the mind and brain with the microbiological study of the bacteria in the human body, especially the gut. The surge of interest in the brain–gut–microbiome axis has been so great that Mayer, Knight, Mazmanian, Cryan, and Tillisch (2014) have described it as nothing less than a paradigm shift in neuroscience; this is clearly an area in which the discipline of psychology could make a substantial contribution.

That may be a nice way of saying-- “Hey Psych docs, get your shit together...and we mean both.”  The science of the microbiome is fact and if diet, probiotics, antibiotics, or fecal transplants can treat and cure depression, that is awesome!

Here is research showing some types of gut bacteria responsible for depression:

Prevotella and Klebsiella proportions in fecal microbial communities are potential characteristic parameters for patients with major depressive disorder  

Add Vitamin D as it is a big positive for the Microbiome:

Vitamin D and depression

Vitamin D deficiency changes the intestinal microbiome reducing B vitamin production in the gut.

I’ll leave you with this recent study which is phenomenal on sharing how the gut bacteria can produce the symptoms of depression, as well as autism -- The gut microbiota in neuropsychiatric disorders .  Click on “full link study” to the right.

The correlation between gut dysbiosis and development of psychiatric, autoimmune and allergic diseases as well as bidirectional communication between brain and gut microflora have been shown. Recent findings suggest that specific bacteria can be involved in the development of clinical conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, depression and schizophrenia, and microbiota may be a target for therapeutic intervention providing novel treatment strategies.



Grace Green

I'm sorry, I probably used words too simple and not strong enough. But my point remains the same, that it is those feelings only without a cause. You use the example of how one would feel after a bereavement, and say that depression is like that. Only it isn't after bereavement. I think that people with autism, and all the social, economic and other problems that go with it, have every reason to be profoundly unhappy, but that is not the problem, it's a consequence of the problem, and it does just give the medics an excuse to blame the patient instead of themselves for causing the autism.


Grace Green; Being clinical depressed is far worse than feeling miserable, it can be so painful that to feel nothing at all, that only death would bring is often preferred. Sad is a vast understatement too, cause it is more than sadness. To feel pain in your chest and throat that really hurts after losing a close love one is about as close as the description for clinical depression can come, but even that kind of depression is vastly different from clinical depression; it is not the same thing, or the same feeling.

Brian James

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Glyphosate Herbicide May Be Responsible For Future Half Of Children With Autism. By 2025, half the children born in the United States will be diagnosed with autism, says Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Grace Green

I hesitated to comment on this topic because as an adult with autism but no intellectual disability I don't understand what "clinical depression" means. Some decades ago I heard that the definition was, feeling miserable but without any real reason. This article seems to say the opposite, in which case I would say why is that not just feeling miserable, and is that an illness? If people have reasons to be miserable - and let's face it, the whole spectrum of Aspies and auties do - then those causes should be addressed. If people are feeling physically ill then of course they are miserable, especially if they're not able to explain what they're experiencing. I believe calling it a psychological condition is just trying to blame the person for what we now know is a situation caused by the medical profession. We really have got to start saying things as they are. Thank you, BILL, for keeping on repeating your message on this matter.

Aimee Doyle

"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"

Just wondering - how would you assess whether an individual with severe autism, who was also nonverbal, suffered from depression? And I doubt whether having an intellectual disability would preclude depression.


This is encouraging news. But I want to confirm, echo, and amplify the comment from Bob Moffit. I came here to AoA kinda late, from my work exposing the lies, fraud, and abuses inherent in the pseudoscience of psychiatry. Psychiatry is largely a drug racket, and a means of social control. Most of the drug studies used by psychiatry are funded by PhRMA, and most are provably fraudulent. One, "Study 329", even has it's own website where the fraud is fully exposed. (><) The suppressed truth is that psychiatric drugs are nowhere near as safe, effective, or necessary as the psychs (and drug companies profits!) would have you believe. It must also be noted that the DSM-5 is really just a catalog of billing codes, and ALL of the bogus, so-called "diagnoses" in it were invented, not discovered.
So this new research on the bodies' microbiome is sorely needed. We only learned fairly recently that the human gut contains many neurons, and much of what we think of as "brain chemicals" are in fact made in the gut. The human body is far more complex than the old idea of "mental illnesses" could ever describe.

bob moffit

"The science of the microbiome is fact and if diet, probiotics, antibiotics, or fecal transplants can treat and cure depression, that is awesome!"

It is encouraging to read emerging "science" connecting the "gut bacteria" to "neuropsychiatric disorders" that would provide effective treatment absent the myriad of psychotropic drugs routinely prescribed by the psychiatry industry .. many of which I suspect contribute to the disorders rather than cure them.

Unfortunately, we can rest assured the psychiatry industry will not surrender their primary source of income and professional dominance … without a prolonged, bitter fight to maintain control of that dominance.

Indeed, the cynic in me suspects the relatively recent "science" regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) as a primary contributing factor explaining the growing phenomena of childhood psychiatric disorders is an example of the psychiatric industry's "scientific flexibility" .. normalizing what was once abnormal.

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