“My child is so young. How can she be depressed?”
Y : One of the more recent statistics coming from the US estimates that by the year 2020, children as young as three may be diagnosed with clinical depression – on the heels of a fiveyear-old child meeting the criteria in the early 2000s. Most people will ask what a four- or five-year-old has to be depressed about. Depression and anxiety are, of course, linked to chemical imbalances. Children aren’t strangers to emotional upsets – it’s just a bit trickier to suss out as they don’t understand why they feel a certain way, but they are very affected by family dynamics and peer relationships. As an adult, if someone doesn’t want to be your friend, you know it’s not the end of the world because you’ve had decades of life experiences and exist in multiple environments – such as home, work, your favourite sporting club, etc. But for these young ones, singular environments like home or school carry more bearing, and as such, their friend not wanting to be their friend is pretty much the end of everything.
“Yes, it’s normal.” Like adults, kids will have an emotional reaction to specific events – especially if they’ve been traumatic or upsetting, such as a divorce or death in the family. Changes in temperament are normal should they occur within that particular timeframe or in succession from such an event.
“Should I be worried?” If your child is usually quite social but is suddenly withdrawn and no longer engages herself in things she usually finds fun – it is likely maladaptive. Keep an eye out for changes in her routine. Have her eating habits changed? Is she sleeping too much or too little? Are her grades slipping? Temporary changes are alright, but if a pattern’s developed, steps need to be taken to ensure it doesn’t continue.