Monday, August 4, 2014

Depression progresses from Early Childhood to Adolescents more common than we think

When people think of a child they imagine innocents and unwavering happiness. Unfortunately, The American Journal of Psychiatry has released a study stating that “children diagnosed with depression as preschoolers are likely to suffer from depression as school-age children and young adolescents” (MNT 2014).  Joan L. Ludy, MD the director of the Early Emotional Development Program at Washington University has found that preschoolers that are diagnosed at an early age were 2.5 times more likely to suffer in elementary and middle school (Ludy 2014). 

              The study followed 246 children from the ages of 3-5 years old to now who are 9 to 12 years old. It also examined the primary caregiver’s interactions with the child since other research has suggested that lack of parental nurturing is a risk factor for recurrence of depression.  The study found that the number of children that were diagnosed originally grew from 74 to 79 in six years. These children met the full criteria for clinical depression (Ludy 2014). "It's the same old bad news about depression; it is a chronic and recurrent disorder," said Ludy "But the good news is that if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively and potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring " she added (Ludy 2014).

She has also found that a child has a higher risk if their mother has been diagnosed with it, but the child’s chances diminish when the child has maternal support. Ludy’s findings continue to contradict current beliefs about children and depression, which states that children as young as 3 and 4 years old cannot be clinically depressed. "The reason it hasn't yet become a huge call to action is because we don't yet have any proven, effective treatments for depressed preschoolers," she explained. "Pediatricians don't usually want to screen for a condition if they can't then refer patients to someone who can help” she said (Ludy 2014).

Jennifer Aguirre
Governmental Affairs
GAACS Accreditation                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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