Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
It’s sad enough to consider the fact that very young children can suffer from depression, but a new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows that there’s even more reason to be concerned about the condition.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that “preschool onset depression, a developmentally adapted form of depression arising between ages 3 and 6 … emerged as a robust predictor of major depressive disorder in later childhood.”
The study followed nearly 250 kids, starting at ages 3–5 until ages 9–12, and discovered that “depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from the condition in elementary and middle school than kids who were not depressed at very young ages,” according to a statement released by the University.
As the Journal‘s study concluded:
Study findings provide evidence that this preschool depressive syndrome is a robust risk factor for developing full criteria for major depression in later childhood, over and above other established risk factors. The results suggest that attention to preschool depression and conduct disorder in addition to maternal history of depression and exposure to trauma may be important in identifying young children at highest risk for later major depression and applying early interventions.
That’s a depressing finding, to be sure, but there is some good news, according to child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD, the director of the University’s Early Emotional Development Program, who said in the statement: “…if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively and potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring.”
Image of a sad young girl: Shutterstock
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Children who are short but otherwise healthy, and who are treated with growth hormone (GH) do in fact become taller, but they also are at increased risk of suffering from depression as they grow older, according to new research presented to the a joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. The findings compared kids who received GH treatment to kids who were of similar height and age but did not receive treatment. Kids who received treatment had more psychological and psychosocial issues than those who did not–although the researchers urged more research on whether it’s the treatment itself or the culture around receiving treatment that had the greatest impact on mental health. More from ScienceDaily:
“Daily injections, frequent clinic visits and repeated discussions about height might exacerbate instead of improve psychosocial concerns in children with idiopathic short stature (ISS) who are otherwise healthy, and give them no cognitive improvements,” said lead author Emily C. Walvoord, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
While the link between using GH to increase height and improved psychological adaptation is being debated, early data suggest that the subtle cognitive problems seen in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) might also occur in children with GHD and might improve with treatment.
Dr. Walvoord and her colleagues evaluated the cognitive and behavioral status of children with GHD and ISS after they received either GH therapy or observation alone, and their preliminary results presented here challenge the idea that improvements in height also result in improvements in psychological functioning. Their findings also raise the concern that GH treatment of these otherwise healthy children might even worsen their emotional symptoms.
Image: Short child, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
A 25-year-old dad may be at risk for a surprising symptom of early parenthood–postpartum depression, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. More from Time.com:
Men who entered into fatherhood at around age 25 saw a 68% increase of depressive symptoms over their first five years of being dads—if they lived at the same home as their children.
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 10,623 young men who were participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study tracked the fathers for about 20 years, and kept score of their depression symptoms.
While fathers who didn’t share a home with their children didn’t experience the same high increase in depressive symptoms in early fatherhood, most of the fathers in the study did live with their children. Those men had lower depression symptoms before they became dads and experienced a spike in symptoms when their child was born and through the first few years.
Identifying depression symptoms in young fathers is critical, since earlier research shows that depressed dads read and interact less with their kids, are more likely to use corporal punishment, and are more likely to neglect their kids.
“Parental depression has a detrimental effect on kids, especially during those first key years of parent-infant attachment,” said lead study author Dr. Craig Garfield, an associate professor in pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. “We need to do a better job of helping young dads transition through that time period.”
Image: Sad father, via Shutterstock
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Friday, April 11th, 2014
Pregnant women who take antidepressant medications during pregnancy may face a higher risk of delivering their babies prematurely, according to a new study that stopped short of declaring a direct link between the two. More from The New York Times:
Researchers reviewed data from 41 studies, some of which controlled for factors like smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking, weight gain during pregnancy, and other behavioral and health issues. They found no increase in the risk of early birth with the use of antidepressants during the first trimester, a 53 percent higher risk over all and a 96 percent higher risk with antidepressant use late in pregnancy.
Depression itself is a risk factor for premature births, and a few studies tried to account for this by using, as a control, a group of women with a diagnosis of depression who did not take antidepressants during their pregnancy. Generally, researchers still found a higher, though diminished, risk from taking antidepressants. The review was published in March in PLOS One.
Does this mean that all pregnant women should avoid these drugs? No, said the senior author, Dr. Adam C. Urato, an assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts University. Risks and benefits have to be balanced, he said.
“It’s very complex, and depends on the severity of the disease,” Dr. Urato added. “The point is that we have to get the right information out so that we can let pregnant women make an informed decision.”
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
A new review of recent research on postpartum depression has found that its symptoms can affect some mothers for more than a year. More from The Huffington Post:
A sweeping new review shines a light on this subset of women, finding that while symptoms of postpartum depression generally diminish with time, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of moms affected with the disorder continue to struggle with major depression throughout the first year after birth — and beyond. The review, its authors argue, highlights the need for clinicians to view women with postpartum depression, or PPD, as a highly heterogeneous group, and to understand that for many, there is no clear beginning or end.
“In some mothers … depressive symptoms indeed decrease over time after childbirth, consistent with the assumption of many researchers in the field that a majority of depressive episodes after childbirth resolve within three to six months,” said Sara Casalin, a researcher with the University of Leuven in Belgium and an author on the study, in an email to The Huffington Post. “However … in a substantial proportion of mothers with PPD, levels of depression do not always significantly decrease, and particularly do not decrease to normal levels.”
Recent estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 7 women battle postpartum depression for reasons that are not entirely known. PPD differs from the so-called “baby blues” — postpartum sadness, exhaustion and mood swings that are common among many women — both in terms of severity and timing. Baby blues generally lasts for only a few weeks after birth, while experts generally agree that postpartum depression can occur anytime within the first year.
The new review, published in the January/February issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, considered 23 studies on postpartum depression conducted between 1985 and 2012. It found that for 38 percent of women with PPD, the disorder is the “prelude to the development of a chronic depressive disorder,” or may be the continuation of a pre-existing problem or vulnerability.
Image: Sad mother, via Shutterstock
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