Children And Adolescents
The sadness that characterizes depression is similar at all ages but is most upsetting to adults when observed in children. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, fatigue, and a general lack of enthusiasm about life. It can be of short or long duration, of low or high intensity, and can occur at any stage of development. Up until the 1970s there was considerable disagreement about whether depression could occur before the onset of formal operational thought, a cognitive ability that emerges in adolescence. Later debates have shifted to determining the specific age at which children are able to identify and label feelings related to depression, and recent findings suggest that by five or six years of age children are capable of doing so (Ialongo, Edelsohn, and Kellam 2001). The use of parent reports has allowed for the identification of depressive disorders among preschoolers, and additional work has focused on identifying young children who are at risk for depression because they have one or more relatives with a mood disorder (Cicchetti and Toth 1998).