Yes, even toddlers also suffer from depression. Here's what you need to know about it
These days, the stigma surrounding depression is slowly disappearing. More and more people are becoming aware that depression isn't just something that's "inside your head".
While some psychologists believe that toddlers are too emotionally immature to experience depression, a growing number of child psychologists believe that toddlers can experience depression, in ages as young as 2 or 3. They add that getting treatment early on will go a long way towards preventing bouts of depression later in life.
So, how can parents be aware if their child has depression or not?
1. Inability to experience joy or happiness
According to Pamela Paul, a writer for the New York Times, the symptoms of childhood depression "look a lot like those in older people." The main difference is how it manifests in toddlers. One symptom in adults, called adehonia, manifests in adults as a loss of libido. In toddlers, it manifests as a loss of interest in playing, especially with toys that they used to love.
2. Making 'death' a part of their play
Have you ever noticed your child 'killing' their toys? Maybe you've seen them create stories with their dolls wherein one toy dies. In adults, this symptom manifests as suicide ideation, but in toddlers, they channel their feelings and emotions through their play.
So if you suddenly notice your child's playtime become morbid or violent, it would be best to seek help.
3. Sudden outbursts that stem from sadness
If your child suddenly lashes out whenever they get frustrated, or whenever you scold or tell them off, these can sometimes be a sign of depression in children. This is especially worrying if it starts to get frequent and you constantly see your child feeling frustrated or angry.
Anxiety is mainly caused by the rise of the stress-related hormone called cortisol, and the failure of the cortisol levels to drop down at a normal rate. Anxiety disorder is a condition that's commonly intertwined with depression, so anxiety in children can sometimes signal depression.
5. Other behavioral disorders
Some studies have found that in children, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) both have similar symptoms to depression. Washington University School of Medicine child psychiatrist Joan Luby found that 40% of her depressed toddler subjects had ODD and ADHD, and most of the time those disorders masked the symptoms of depression.
If you notice your little one has any of these these symptoms, it would be best to talk to a child psychologist to get a full diagnosis, and so that they can help your child with what they're going through. Getting treatment early on can helps prevent cases of depression later on in life.