chapter  9
18 Pages

Special Populations: Children and the Elderly

There has been much disagreement about the fact and the form of depression in children. Until fairly recently the majority opinion was that depression did not exist in children. Symptoms of unhappiness or demoralization were seen as reactions to life stress in a young child less able than an adult to weather the passing storms of situational despair. Psychoanalytic theories, in particular, proposed that depression could not occur in childhood. For example, Rie (1966) thought that the child's personality structure had not matured to the point where adult forms of depression could occur. Rochlin (1959) thought that depression could not occur until middle childhood because depression involved the superego directing aggression against the ego, a development not taking place until that point in life. Contrary views, such as Glaser's (1967), held that depression occurred in children but was "masked" and indirectly expressed. Glaser regarded such symptoms as somatic syndromes, phobias, and conduct problems as behavioral displays of underlying depressive problems. Early literature often suggested that depression could exist in children, but likely would not be directly expressed {e.g., Cytryn and McKnew, 1972).