Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Depression Affects Kids as Young as 3

When Preschoolers Are Depressed, Play Therapy, Not Medication, Is in Order, Researchers Say

Recognizing Depression in Preschoolers continued...

An inability to enjoy the typical play a preschooler enjoys is another warning sign, Luby says.

A general ''lack of joy" about life also warrants investigation, she says. Preschoolers can also have changes in sleep and appetite and their activity level, compared to their playmates.

If symptoms persist over a period of a week or two, it's time to seek help, Luby says.

Among experts, she says, there is a question about whether the two-week duration of symptoms normally considered worrisome for adults -- and a signal that it's clinical depression, not just the temporary blues -- should apply to children.

She tells parents to seek help if their child's symptoms are intense and continue over a week or two, even if the symptoms are not constantly present over that time.

''Children have a natural buoyancy," she says, so the symptoms may come and go more than they might with adults.

Depression in Preschoolers: Seeking Help

Where should worried parents turn for help? "You could go to the pediatrician, but you might have to educate your pediatrician a bit," Luby says, noting that not all are aware that depression can strike as young as age 3.

Parents might also seek help from a mental health provider, she says.

Although antidepressant medication is a mainstay of treating adult depression, it should never be given to preschoolers, she says. "Absolutely not to medication," she tells parents. It's not been tested in young children.

''Psychotherapy is recommended," she says, "in the kids' case, play therapy."

Luby is in the process of testing a modified version of a treatment called Parent-Child Interaction Therapy or PCIT that was originally designed for children with a conduct disorder.

In PCIT, parents of children with conduct disorders are taught to work with the child to improve pro-social behavior and reduce negative behavior. Luby is testing a version that focuses on teaching parents to enhance a child's emotional development. The thought is that early changes in emotional development skills could help with the depression.

She is hoping that early intervention will prove more effective than waiting and that the gains will be sustained in later childhood. She is studying the approach with 300 children, including some with depression, some with other mental health issues, and some healthy comparison children.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration