preschoolers and depression

There’s a long but good article in the New York Times titled “Can Preschoolers be depressed?” I’m always cautious about reading on mental health and kids because it seems like they end up talking about medication—and I’m not quite sure how young is too young to give psychotropic meds, especially when they haven’t even been much research about youngsters and those drugs. But this article, written by Pamela Paul, ends up talking about an interesting therapy technique called Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).

I do think adequate treatment is really important at any age. But once a diagnosis has been handed down to that child, can a child ever ‘outgrow’ that label? Are these illnesses like juvenile diabetes where it has to be controlled for a lifetime? Even as an adult, it’s hard to deal with a psychiatric diagnosis. If so, what’s it like for a child? Does the parent tell that kid that s/he is ‘sick’?

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3 Comments to “preschoolers and depression”

  1. Interesting topic. The PCIT discussed in the article seems like the best way to approach such diagnosis among the very young. I’m glad they didn’t say anything about putting kids on psychotropics, seems like such a dangerous decision considering the under-matured brain at this age. Hopefully now that we are beginning to recognize mental illness in the very young, longitudinal studies can begin that will help provide a more life-span oriented integration when considering treatments and diagnosis.

  2. Very interesting. But, as a parent and as an adult with mental illness, putting small children on medication should be the last last resort. I know my oldest daughter could by some parents have been seen as ADHD and she even tested as having a tendency towards it. I wanted no further testing. She was 5 or so at the time. And, I was in the lucky position of not needing to work. What I did was found a sport she liked-soccer-and she played it year round . For years she played soccer. And, that exercise relaxed her and made her not go into the mode I once called,”jumping the walls.”

    Plus, as people who are open about our mental illness, it’s rare to find a person with mental illness that didn’t have a hard up bringing, difficult parents, neglectful parents or worse. So, the parents of these children need to take a close look at any way they could be contributing to the child’s problems. That’s what I have to do all the time. Or I don’t feel I’m giving my kids what they deserve. A mindful parent.

  3. I have to add one thing. It is an interesting approach mentioned at the end of the article. But,
    when the little boy answers his mother-you would put me in the trash can-how did he come to feel that way in the first place. I’ve been in therapy and have known parents who took their children to therapy too. And, a lot aren’t really being themselves during the session. One couple I knew comes to mind-I lived down the street from them. They were evil to their 2 kids. I witnessed it. But, I also witnessed the “face” they put on to look like loving parents.
    Once again, parents often are the problem or the contributing factor to a young child’s symptoms.

    Once this therapy is over, will the parents go home and go right back to being their “old” selves?

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