Researchers wanted to see if the movements during a scary situation differed between children diagnosed with depression or anxiety and children without such a diagnosis. It turns out they did. Children with a diagnosis turned further away from the perceived threat.
…[I]t’s become widely accepted that children as young as age 3 can suffer from mental health disorders, diagnosis remains difficult. Such children often escape notice because they hold their emotions inside.
It’s increasingly clear, though, that these children are at risk of mental and physical health problems later in life, says Lisabeth DiLalla, a developmental psychologist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Carbondale. “The question is: ‘Can we turn that around?’”
Maybe, says Joan Luby, a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Luby’s research has shown that treating preschoolers with depression helps the youngsters feel joy again, at least in the short term. “When you identify young children early” as needing help, Luby says, “you can treat them better.”
Though estimates vary widely, some 10 to 20 percent of preschool- and kindergarten-age children are thought to suffer from an anxiety disorder and about 2 percent from depression.
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