Stability of co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses in autistic men and women

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Background: Despite a high prevalence of psychiatric conditions in autistic adults, research examining the diagnostic stability of psychiatric conditions diagnosed prior to autism is limited. Method: The present study examined the occurrence of (1) psychiatric diagnoses obtained before autism was diagnosed, (2) psychiatric conditions co-occurring with autism following its diagnosis, and (3) psychiatric conditions that were diagnosed before autism but no longer co-occurred with autism following its diagnosis. Participants (N = 1019, 51.5% female) provided information on psychiatric conditions predating their diagnosis of autism and psychiatric conditions co-occurring with autism. This information was combined to identify prior diagnoses that were no longer present post-autism diagnosis. Results: Results showed that 50.2% of participants (62.7% of females and 37% of males) had at least one prior diagnosis. Mood and personality disorders were the most frequent prior diagnoses. Moreover, 59.3% (67% of females and 51% of males) reported having at least one diagnosis co-occurring with autism. Mood and anxiety disorders were the most frequent co-occurring diagnoses. Finally, 37.7% (47% of females and 27.3% of males) reported at least one previously diagnosed psychiatric condition that was no longer listed as a condition co-occurring with autism following its diagnosis. Personality disorders were most frequently no longer reported as diagnoses co-occurring with autism, despite being listed as prior diagnoses. Conclusions: This study provides quantitative estimates of the temporal stability of specific psychiatric conditions before and after a diagnosis of autism in adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101736
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in autism spectrum disorders
Early online date5 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Adults
  • ASD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Co-occurring diagnoses
  • Female
  • Prior diagnoses


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