Low mood and challenging behaviour in people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Background We investigated the relationship between low mood and challenging behaviour in people in the severe and profound range of intellectual disability, while controlling for the presence of potentially confounding variables such as diagnosis of autism, physical and sensory problems and ill health. Methods The key workers of 52 people with severe and profound intellectual disability completed measures of depression, communication, challenging behaviour and provided information on relevant demographic and health variables. Results Using the Mood, Interest and Pleasure Questionnaire for classification of mood, a significant difference was found between a 'low mood' and 'normothymic' group in the reported occurrence of challenging behaviour. This difference remained even when confounding variables such as the presence of autism, health and sensory difficulties were controlled. The frequency and severity of challenging behaviour was predicted by measures indicating the presence of low mood. Conclusion People with severe and profound show clear and measurable signs of low mood, and in this relatively small sample of institutionalised individuals, low mood was associated with challenging behaviour.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • challenging behaviour, mood, depression, intellectual disability