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29 Apr 2003

"depressed" 5yr old
Hi Cybershrink;
I have a 5yr old stepson; who came to live with us 10mnths ago;
We lost contact with him and his mom for +- 1yr and in this time we dont know where he lived or
what happened to him; all we have been able to find out is that his mom used to leave him alone
for periods of time and we know that food was also very limited, we dont know if there was any physical or sexual abuse.
His mom bascially left him on our doorstep and disappered.
Our problem is that he shows signs of depression , can a 5yr old get depressed; he wont eat; he sleeps alot; wont play with his brothers and sister and crys alot.
I took him to a doctor twice and he cant find anything physically wrong and he agrees that he is
depressed and that we must just give him alot of love and a stable enviroment which we are doing.
Is there anything eles we can do.
This whole holiday period he has done nothing but cry.
please help
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear stepmom,
yes indeed children can sufer from depression and also from Depression. He may have many things to be sad about --- he may miss even his highly irresponsible mother, and may feel deeply having been dumped on your doorstep like an unwanted suitcase. Lots of love within a stable relatonship will be excellent, and he may need much reassurance that he is indeed loved and loveable.
Although childhood Depression has not been as well studied and researched as adult depression, children may respond well to antidepressant medications in some cases, and to other treatments --- ideally, he would benefit from seeing a good Child Psychiatrist for a full assessment and advice as to specific treatment. This would be kind and probably effective ; as he need not continue to be so sad and tearful. Thank goodness he has people as good as you and your husband to care for him now.
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