Experts Warn Parents of Toddler Depression

Children as young as 3 may need help
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2009 3:45 AM CDT
Psychologists increasingly believe that chronic depression can affect children as young as 3.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Some toddlers who seem cranky or sad could be suffering from chronic depression, PsychCentral reports. A new study finds that some children as young as 3 already show clear symptoms of clinical depression. The condition was most common in children who had suffered abuse or the loss of a parent, and those who came from families with a history of depression.

Researchers say clinical depression is rare in preschoolers, but parents should watch for warning signs like a loss of appetite, a preoccupation with guilt, or sleep problems, and should seek advice from professionals. Experts—some of whom are skeptical about the new research—say that while early treatment is important for depression in the very young, psychotherapy should be used before treatment with drugs like Prozac is considered.