Promising New Depression Research Offers Early Intervention Technique for Children

Joan L. Luby, MD

It is known that depression can manifest as early as 3 years old, and that the condition can give way to future disorders. Because medication is inappropriate and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is ineffective at such a young age, finding treatment options has been challenging.

However, recent studies conducted by NARSAD Independent Investigator Grantee Joan L. Luby, MD and colleagues at Washington University have found that a form of therapy called Parent Child Interaction Therapy-Emotion Development (PCIT-ED) is helpful in treating toddler depression. It involves building on the parent-child relationship by teaching positive play techniques, and aids the parent to help the child recognize emotions in self and others, as well as cope with these emotions.

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Article comments

This is encouraging new research, given the 2005 NIMH study stating that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness are diagnosed by the age of 14.
I have long believed this is where new research needs to be focused, on early (effective) intervention. This is also the best bet to lead to prevention.
We need to scale up investment in your Foundation so more similar innovative, and promising new research can be supported.

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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