Children who are diagnosed with a form of depression in preschool are more likely to carry that depression into their adolescence, a study has found.
Preschoolers were found to be more than two times more likely to also suffer from depression in elementary and middle school according to research carried out at Washington University in Missouri and published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Researchers tracked 246 children in age groups of ages 3-5 to ages 9-12. Over six years researchers analyzed such aspects as the children’s sleep, appetite, irritability, sadness and lack of enjoyment during playtime and activities.
When the study began, 74 of the children tracked had been diagnosed with depression and after six years researchers found that 79 of the children had clinical depression with more than half (51%) of the 74 children who were originally diagnosed still having the condition.
Children as young as 3 years of age should be tested for depression, researchers believe, and if depression is identified and treated early on in childhood it could lead to more effective treatment of the illness in adult years.
Major Depressive Disorder can develop at any age and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population.