Self-reported versus informant-reported depressive symptoms in adults with mild intellectual disability

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BackgroundVirtually nothing is known about potential differences in the types of depression symptoms reported by adults with mild intellectual disability (ID) on self-reported questionnaires as compared with the types of symptoms reported by caregivers on informant questionnaires. Moreover, little is known about how the presentation of depression among adults with mild ID varies based on socio-demographic characteristics.MethodsWe compared findings from two self-reported questionnaires, the Self-Reported Depression Questionnaire (SRDQ) and the Glasgow Depression Scale for People with a Learning Disability (GDS), to that of an informant questionnaire of depressive symptoms, the Glasgow Depression Scale – Caregiver Supplement (CGDS), in 80 adults with mild ID. We also examined the association between age, sex, IQ and the presence of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder and frequency of affective, cognitive and somatic depressive symptoms in our sample of adults with mild ID.ResultsAdults with mild ID self-reported a higher frequency of affective and cognitive depressive symptoms than staff reported on the informant measure. Staff reported a higher frequency of somatic symptoms than adults with mild ID on one of the self-reported questionnaires (GDS) and a similar frequency on the other self-reported questionnaire (SRDQ). Important differences were found in the types of depressive symptoms based on their IQ, age and presence of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder.ConclusionInformant questionnaires offer valuable information, but assessment should include self-reported questionnaires as these questionnaires add unique information about internalised experiences (affective and cognitive symptoms) of adults with mild ID that may not be apparent to caregivers. Health care providers should be made aware of the important differences in the presentation of depressive based on their IQ, age and presence of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder.

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