According to child psychiatry researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a form of play therapy between parents and their toddlers can relieve depression in preschoolers.
Known as parent-child interaction therapy, the play-based technique has been used successfully to treat hyperactivity and disruptive disorders. The researchers adapted it, adding a focus on emotional development, to test whether it could help parents teach their children how to regulate negative emotions, such as guilt and sadness.
The original therapy was developed in the 1970s by Sheila M. Eyberg, PhD, distinguished professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
"It’s designed to help parents understand what’s going on with their child," Lenze says. "It also trains parents in how to show empathy for the child and the emotions that child is displaying, as well as what to do about those emotions."
Another reason may involve brain development.
"The brain is undergoing tremendous, rapid change during this period of development," Luby says. "We think it is important to identify depression and intervene early so that we might prevent it from becoming a chronic and relapsing disorder."