Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Can depression start before school?

Can depression start before school?

Children as young as 3 years’ old should be regularly screened for depression, researchers looking into the re-occurrence of the condition have said.

The study of 246 children aged 3-5 by Washington University in St. Louis found that those who are depressed in nursery are two and a half times more likely to continue to experience symptoms right up to university and beyond.

However, study lead Dr Joan Luby believes that if child health professionals can spot symptoms of depression early on, it will make treatment more effective.

“It's the same old bad news about depression; it is a chronic and recurrent disorder,” the director of Washington's Early Emotional Development Programme said. “But the good news is that if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively,” Luby said. This could “potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring,” she added.

As part of the study, children and their parents/guardians participated in 6 yearly assessments as well as 4 bi-annual assessments on their sadness, irritability, guilt, sleep and appetite, as well as reduced enjoyment in activities or playtime.

At the beginning of the study, 74 of the children were diagnosed with depression. Six years later, 79 of the children met the criteria for clinical depression, including about half of the 74 children diagnosed with depression when the study began.

By contrast, just 24% of the 172 children who were not identified as having symptoms of depression during the study went on to develop mental health issues later on. Among the children at higher risk for depression were school-age youngsters whose mothers had suffered from depression.

Being diagnosed with a conduct disorder while in nursery school also boosted a child's risk for depression in other school levels. This risk was reduced however, if children had a lot of support from their mother, the researchers noted.

“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.”

“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. “Paediatricians don't usually want to screen for a condition if they can't then refer patients to someone who can help.”

Story courtesy of Mental Health Today

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Research to examine impact of online communication with children in care during pandemic

08/05/2021

An investigation into how the move to online communication in supporting children in care has affected them has been launched in a research project led by South Tyneside Council in collaboration with Gateshead-based organisation Blue Cabin.

The project, funded by the Department for Education, will examine how family time has been delivered during lockdown, and how [...]

Read Full Story

Child protection enquiries rise by 125% in a decade

07/05/2021

The number of child protection enquiries to local authority children’s services departments has increased by 125% over the last 10 years, a parliamentary research briefing has shown.

Department for Education (DfE) data on local authority social care activity between 31 March 2010 and 2020 showed an increase in activity across a range of measures including the [...]

Read Full Story

Cafcass launches NQSW programme

06/05/2021

A three-year course for newly qualified social workers has been launched by Cafcass and is now open for applications.

Overseen by the Cafcass Social Work Academy, the programme enables NQSWs to develop their practice in a safe environment. Led by expert social workers, the course supports NQSW’s in their journey, enhance their expertise and ensure [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram