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Anxiety and depression co-occur in 50–70% of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but treatment methods for these comorbid problems have not been systematically studied. Recently, two ASD-tailored protocols were published: mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). We wanted to investigate if both methods are equally effective in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms among adults with ASD. 59 adults with ASD and anxiety or depression scores above 7 on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, gave informed consent to participate; 27 followed the CBT protocol, and 32 the MBSR treatment protocol. Anxiety and depression scores, autism symptoms, rumination, and global mood were registered at the start, at the end of the 13-week treatment period, and at 3-months follow-up. Irrational beliefs and mindful attention awareness were used as process measures during treatment and at follow-up. Results indicate that both MBSR and CBT are associated with a reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms among adults with ASD, with a sustained effect at follow-up, but without a main effect for treatment group. A similar pattern was seen for the reduction of autistic symptoms, rumination and the improvement in global mood. There are some indications that MBSR may be preferred over CBT with respect to the treatment effect on anxiety when the scores on measures of irrational beliefs or positive global mood at baseline are high. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapies are both promising treatment methods for reducing comorbid anxiety and depression in adults with ASD.
BackgroundAdults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often present with a lifelong pattern of core symptoms that is associated with impairments of functioning in daily life. This has a substantial personal and economic impact. In clinical practice there is a high need for additional or alternative interventions for existing treatments, usually consisting of pharmacotherapy and/or psycho-education. Although previous studies show preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing ADHD symptoms and improving executive functioning, these studies have methodological limitations. This study will take account of these limitations and will examine the effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in further detail. Methods/design A multi-centre, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial will be conducted in N = 120 adults with ADHD. Patients will be randomised to MBCT in addition to treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU alone. Assessments will take place at baseline and at three, six and nine months after baseline. Primary outcome measure will be severity of ADHD symptoms rated by a blinded clinician. Secondary outcome measures will be self-reported ADHD symptoms, executive functioning, mindfulness skills, self-compassion, positive mental health and general functioning. In addition, a cost-effectiveness analysis will be conducted. Discussion This trial will offer valuable information about the clinical and cost-effectiveness of MBCT in addition to TAU compared to TAU alone in adults swith ADHD. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02463396. Registered 8 June 2015.