Daywatch: Depression in infancy

Good morning, Chicago.

Did you know babies can get depressed?

Andria Goss, associate vice president of clinical and community services at the Erikson Institute, a graduate school for social work, early childhood education and child development programs, said people are astonished when they learn and appreciate that fact.

“Babies experience everything as a bodily feeling: If a parent is stressed, depressed and/or anxious, the baby is picking up on that,” she said. “Imagine a mom who has her own stresses and sometimes she’s able to focus on her baby and other times there’s an interaction, she’s angry, or not attuned to the baby, not doing the stuff that engages the baby. They have this on-off, on-off repeatedly. The baby doesn’t know what to do with that because the baby is working hard to get smiles, elicit cooing and it’s not happening. At a certain point, with all those failed attempts, the baby stops trying … and withdraws.”

Goss said that although that’s an extreme example, it illustrates how babies pick up stressors from their environment and don’t know what to do with them. When such interactions become chronic, that can create challenges in the parent-child relationship.

Read the full story from the Tribune’s Darcel Rockett.

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