Many assume that depression is an adult malady that can not impact younger children; however, as the Pamela Paul reported in the New York Times (2010), children as young as preschool age can suffer from depression. If your preschool child appears to move through bouts of extreme unhappiness, preschool depression could be to blame. To ensure that she doesn’t suffer from this mental anguish any longer than necessary, be attentive to her suffering and seek to determine whether depression is at the root.
Historically, doctors did not consider depression as a potential cause of emotional upset until the patient was a teen or adult; however, the onset of this disorder could occur much earlier. KidsHealth notes that 1 in 33 children may have depression. Children as young as 2 or 3 years of age are currently being diagnosed with, and treated for, depression, meaning that if your tot seems permanently in a set of depression, he very well might be.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of preschool age depression are quite similar to those exhibited by older depression sufferers. The main difference is that children of this age are often not able to verbalize their upset, but instead display their depressive state through behavioral cues. If you think that your preschooler may be depressed, watch for signs including frequent crying, low-energy level, voluntary isolation during play time, frequent complaints of stomachaches, changes in sleeping pattern, or destructive behaviors, as all are earmarks of preschool depression, reports WebMD.
Dangers of Early Diagnosis
While depression can be diagnosed in preschool children, many doctors are hesitant to do so. Because youngsters are in a state of mental flux, many doctors do not want to attach a label to something that could be a temporary problem, reports Pamula Paul in The New York Times (2010). If your child exhibits numerous signs of depression, you will likely be able to secure an official diagnosis, as your pediatrician will find evidence of the condition confounding. If, on the other hand, your child exhibits only one or two symptoms, most doctors will wait before determining the presence of depression.
If you see signs of depression in your youngster, exploring your family history in search of depression sufferers is a wise choice. Because depression has been found to run in families, a family history of the disorder adds credence to your belief that your child is an early onset depression sufferer, states NARSAD, a national mental health organization. If, upon exploring your family history, you unearth some depression sufferers, share the findings with your child’s health care provider.
When preschool children suffer from depression, treatment is generally two-fold, reports WebMD. In most cases, your child’s doctor will prescribe therapy for your him. Through therapy sessions, the mental health practitioner will seek to help your child develop coping strategies so that he can more effectively deal with his depression. Your child’s doctor may also start him on a course of medication to help alleviate the depression symptoms.