ST. LOUIS, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Depression among preschoolers appears to be a continuous, chronic condition rather than a transient developmental stage, U.S. researchers said.
Dr. Joan L. Luby and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied 306 preschoolers ages 3-6. Of these, 75 met criteria for major depressive disorder, 79 had anxiety or disruptive disorders, but not depression, and 146 did not meet criteria for any psychiatric disorder.
A comprehensive three- to four-hour laboratory assessment was completed at the beginning of the study.
"Preschoolers with depression at baseline had the highest likelihood of subsequent depression 12 and/or 24 months later compared with preschoolers with no baseline disorder and with those who had other psychiatric disorders," the study authors said in a statement.
"After controlling for other demographic variables and risk factors, preschoolers with depression at the beginning of the study had a four times greater likelihood of having depression one and two years later than preschoolers without depression."
The findings are published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.