Diagnostic and Treatment Options for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities and Elevated Anxiety and Depressive Symptomology

Document Type


Degree Name

Specialist in School Psychology (SSP)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Spring 2020


Identification of anxiety and depressive symptoms is difficult in the general population due to the internalizing nature of presentation of these disorders. Among the population of persons with Intellectual Disabilities, it becomes even more challenging because of the altered presentation of symptoms, communication impairments, reduced self-awareness of internal states, and lack of expertise required for symptom identification in this population. These factors combined with the presence of challenging behaviors in this population with comorbid anxiety or depression, makes the treatment options elusive, even though the prevalence of these disorders has been found to be at least as common as that in the general population of persons without intellectual disabilities. The treatment options for anxiety and depression in the population of persons with Intellectual Disabilities are limited due to challenges in cognition and communication and altered adverse effects of psychotropic medications. This study was conducted at a continuing education program for adults with intellectual disabilities, and aimed to find the prevalence, symptomology, and treatment options for anxiety and depression among persons with intellectual disabilities at the program. A comparative analysis was conducted with the general population of persons with and without intellectual disability. The caregivers and family members were also involved in the study by means of focus group discussions which were conducted to collect qualitative data about the nature of symptoms, treatment options, and strategies for intervention utilized by the instructors as well as caregivers/family members of persons with intellectual disability. This study will be beneficial in enhancing the understanding of prevalence rates, diagnosis and treatment options for anxiety and depressive symptomology among persons with intellectual disability.


Kelly M. Carrero

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology