A few days ago on a major talk radio station there was an hour-long program on depression in toddlers. The host was amazed and a bit in disbelief that it was even possible for little kids to be depressed. For a full hour I heard the expert give desperate parents vague information that wasn't practical or useful, for the most part. But most importantly, there wasn't any straight talk about what may cause the depression to begin with. Frustrated, I pulled off the freeway and called the station. I was the last caller taken, and I'm grateful to have had the time to make two quick points. One, when a child has depression, the parents should also be assessed for depression. Depressed moms and dads who go untreated can deeply affect the mental health of their children. Second, depression in children can and should only be treated within the context of the family unit. It makes no sense to treat children for mental health issues without understanding the physical and emotional environment of their families.

Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D.

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