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Preschoolers Can Suffer From Depression, Too
Date:8/4/2014

criteria for clinical depression, including about half of the 74 kids diagnosed with depression when the study began.

Meanwhile, just 24 percent of the 172 children who were not depressed as preschoolers went on to develop depression later.

Among the children at higher risk for depression were school-age youngsters whose mothers had suffered from depression, the study revealed.

Being diagnosed with a conduct disorder while in preschool also boosted a child's risk for depression later on in elementary or middle school. This risk was reduced however, if children had a lot of support from their mother, the researchers noted.

Overall, the risk for later depression was greatest for the kids who were diagnosed with the condition while they were in preschool, Luby's group reported.

"Preschool depression predicted school-age depression over and above any of the other well-established risk factors," Luby said. "Those children appear to be on a trajectory for depression that's independent of other psychosocial variables."

Preschoolers as young as 3 years old should be regularly screened for depression, the researchers believe. Implementing such depression screenings is easier said than done, however, since there are no effective treatments for young children, they noted.

"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," Luby explained. "Pediatricians don't usually want to screen for a condition if they can't then refer patients to someone who can help."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health provides more information on depression in children and teens.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo., news release, July 28, 2014'/>"/>

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