Date Approved

2014

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Renée Lajiness-O’Neill

Committee Member

Kevin M. Antshel

Committee Member

Jin Bo

Committee Member

Michelle Byrd

Abstract

Mood disorders are some of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BPD) have become more widely recognized in children and adolescents in recent years and are especially common in individuals with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS). Disruptions in social functioning are a common feature of mood disorders, including social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities that the individual typically experiences as pleasurable (anhedonia). Studies of individuals with 22q11.2DS also show they experience difficulty with social functioning, as well as social cognition, visuospatial, and executive functioning tasks. Studies of theory of mind (ToM) ability in youth and emerging adults with 22q11.2DS and comorbid mood disorder remain elusive, and a better understanding of whether or not social cognition plays a role in the development of mood disorders may help provide a target area for treatment. This study investigated the social, visuospatial, ToM, and executive functioning abilities of 15 youth and emerging adults with 22q11.2DS who met inclusion criteria for mood disorders and 46 individuals with 22q11.2DS with no mood disorder. These results were compared with the results from 22 unaffected sibling and 26 unaffected community controls. A multiple mediator model examining the contributions of visuospatial, social, ToM, and executive functioning to a diagnosis of mood disorder indicated that social functioning was the only significant mediator. Youth and emerging adults with 22q11.2DS and a comorbid mood disorder did not demonstrate greater deficits in visuospatial, ToM, or executive functioning skills relative to individuals with 22q11.2DS only. However, youth and emerging adults with 22q11.2DS and comorbid mood disorder did show greater social deficits on both the SRS and VABS-II Socialization Index. Correlational analyses demonstrated few significant associations between visuospatial and adaptive functioning, while several significant moderate positive associations were found between executive and adaptive functioning, particularly in the group of individuals with 22q11.2DS and no mood disorder. ToM performance was not significantly associated with adaptive functioning measures. Results confirmed that greater deficits in social functioning were associated with mood disorder diagnosis, and highlight the importance of early social skills intervention for individuals with 22q11.2DS.

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Psychology Commons

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