Toddlers and Depression

Believe it or not there is a rising epidemic of depression among toddlers in North America. It is depressing in itself to think that they can suffer from it at all but apparently many toddlers can get the blues.

Many studies conducted since the 1990s show that clinical depression is a disease that can attack all ages. Depression and thoughts of suicide can plague a child as young as two years old and torture them the same way they do an adult or teenager. 

An ongoing study being conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Washington School of Medicine is finding that there are more toddlers and preschoolers with depression then we think. Their findings about toddlers and preschoolers with depression were so concerning that it has prompted a major Surgeon General Report to be conducted about the state of children's mental health in the United States. 

According to the National Mental Health Association, a whopping one in three children in the United suffers from depression.  The results of these types of studies are thought to be comparable to what is going on in other countries in the world.

 Unfortunately if your kid is depressed it can be a lot harder to diagnose then it is for an adult as so often it is interpreted as misbehavior stubbornness or even a low intelligence quotient. Like adults, toddlers and preschoolers lose all interest in activities that they used to enjoy when they are depressed. They also become lethargic, withdrawn and irritable. A depressed toddler may also cry a lot, lack enthusiasm be impatient and irritable and always be tired.

The child may also withdraw from favorite family, friends or activities. Toddlers that are depressed may also have trouble sleeping or sleep all day. Many of them suffer form excess weight gain or weight loss. The toddler who is depressed may whine more or need more attention. Frequent complaints of physical problems, such as stomachaches and headaches can also indicate depression. 

Depression in toddlers can also mimic learning disorders, regression, and lack of concentration and memory loss. In severe cases the child may talk morbidly or try to harm oneself or others during play. Trying to harm or a kill a pet is also a symptom.  If you see these symptoms take the kid to a doctor. It does not mean you are a bad parent! However before you rush your child to a doctor keep in mind that kids have ups and downs just like adults. The above symptoms become pathological when they begin to have some duration.

Displaying any of the above symptoms for a day is not the same as displaying them for weeks on end and that is what you mainly have to watch for.  According to a report done by the United States Surgeon General any child that displays depressed symptoms for more than two weeks needs to see a doctor. According to the same report the average duration of depression in a toddler usually lasts from seven to nine months.