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New Study Shows Newborns May Exhibit Signs of Anxiety & Depression

Focus on the hands of a 3 month old baby girl holding the fingers of her father. Vintage style color filter.

This article is part of the Here. Now. essay series, which seeks to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, and improve accessibility to treatment and support for teens and parents in metropolitan New York. 

Most people assume babies are happy, unless they’re tired, hungry, or are sick–and seem to think babies can’t experience sadness or depression. However, this assumption may prove to be false. According to a new study published in the February 2017 edition of Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, signs of anxiety and depression may be present in children as young as newborns.

Babies apparently can show “patterns of brain connectivity” that can indicate whether or not a baby will eventually show early signs and symptoms of mental illness in childhood development by age 2. Dr. Cynthia Rogers, a child psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, who was also one of the study’s authors, told The Huffington Post that depression is genetic, but it is important to remember environment also makes a big difference, stating:

“For some children their brains are developing along a trajectory that increases their risk for mental health symptoms as they develop.” She then went on to say, to my great relief as a mother, “It’s important to note, however, that the experiences and environment that they are exposed to as they grow may alter these connectivity patterns making it more or less likely for these symptoms to develop.”

The signs of childhood anxiety and depression have a wide range, which include , trouble sleeping at night but exhaustion and sleeping during the day, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. That being said, you should consider having your child receive medical treatment if these symptoms only affect their day-to-day ability to function. If that is the case, please consult your primary care physician to seek out advice and a potential treatment plan.

This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation
of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.

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