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Depression: Not Just for Adults

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Depression: Not Just for Adults

Post  Admin on Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:18 am

Emerging, controversial research suggests children as young as 3 years of age can meet the clinical criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD).

Joan Luby, Director of the early emotional development program at Washington University in St. Louis
"Depressed pre-schoolers do not just show synonymous clinical symptoms to adult depression—they also show similar patterns of brain activity when scanned using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques".

She says. “So these results suggest that there may be very early markers of a depressed brain that can be picked up in kids as early as age 4 or 5 and may open the door to much earlier intervention.

Daniel Klein, a psychologist at Stony Brook University
“When clinicians ask a depressed person when they first started feeling depressed, they’ll often report having been depressed their entire lives,” he says. “It’s not clear when the onset is so I study pre-school age children with the intent of trying to identify behavioral and emotional precursors that will later evolve into chronic depression.

While Luby does not dismiss the idea of a pharmacological treatment in the future, Luby’s lab is currently testing a unique early intervention called Dyadic Play Therapy. Children work with their primary caregivers, who are coached via an earpiece by a therapist, on emotional regulation and development.
“So far, the treatment appears promising,” she says. “We are just now writing up the results of a small randomized, controlled trial suggesting there may be large effect sizes with this intervention.”

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