I know it sounds hard to believe, but did you know that a baby can have clinical depression? Sad isn’t it? As an adult we feel hopeless in depression, so imagine a baby as young as 6 months having symptoms of depression. Let’s take a look at some behaviours of depression in infants.
- When infants are separated from their parents then they may begin to cry. This is also known as separation anxiety. Infants can show signs of separation anxiety as young as 6 or 7 months of age. The age where it is most common is between the ages of 10 and 18 months. It can start even if you are just going to another room or even leaving the house to go to work. Just remember that. Some ways that you can help your baby through this are minimizing time away from him/her. If you don’t have a choice on the time you spend away from your infant then try to set up childcare with someone the baby is familiar with or try to have your baby around the caregiver as much as possible before leaving them alone. This will substantially help your infant and also your caregiver if they are not stressed out while you are away. Separation anxiety is completely normal and a lot of babies go through it. It is nothing to worry too much about.
- Frozen facial expressions are another symptom of depression in infants. This one is pretty self explanatory. When a baby may be depressed they may have a still, motionless face. It may become more than that also. They may not play a whole lot. They might just do a lot of sitting and seem like they are zoning out. If they are around a parent that is depressed they could also pick up on those behaviours and copy cat the adult.
- Weight loss is an additional cause of depression. Just like adults, babies may not eat as much when they are depressed. So if they are eating less, obviously they will lose weight. Just because your infant doesn’t want to eat though doesn’t mean that they are depressed. Most babies do go through a stage where they don’t want to eat very much. Or it could be because they are not feeling that great at the time. So don’t worry too much. If it persists though, I do recommend bringing them to the doctor so he/she can asses them.
- Increased risk of infection. Some infants may have more of a risk if they are eating less than they are not building a healthy immune system, so they are more likely to catch something. It could be something as little as a cold or could be the flu.
- Changes in sleep. This could range from sleeping too much but they could also not get enough sleep. It all depends on the infant.
- Low energy. As adults we have low energy in depression, so of course an infant would too. If they have low energy then they may sleep even more, which we talked about in the previous point. It would be best to try to keep them occupied and interact with them as much as possible so they are awake for longer periods at a time.
As you can see depression is getting more awareness in today’s society. Something I am happy about. People are finding out that it isn’t “just all in your head.” They are actually realizing that it is a sickness and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Including in infants.
Rachael is happily married with two children. She works for AIM Social Media Marketing and loves what she does! In her spare time she loves to colour to lose the stresses of the day and go for a walk with her family down the country roads.