"There's about a 75-per-cent rate of recurrence of depression later in life if a child has a first episode during the years from eight to 13,'' said Maria Kovacs, a psychologist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.
A typical episode of major depression in children from five to 18 with problems serious enough to be referred for treatment lasts about 11 months on average, with about 15 per cent of these children experiencing an episode lasting as long as 18 months, Kovacs
found.For children with mild depression, or dysthymia, episodes are less incapacitating but last much longer, averaging about four years.Kovacs
studied 134 children in whom depression had been diagnosed as early as the age of eight, assessing them every few years until some were as old as 24.At the same time, she
studied a comparison group of 56 children who did not suffer from depression.
"We found long-lasting depression in some of the youngest kids, even though the professional literature said it was the older kids who would be far more depressed,'' Kovacs
What is more, children who experience an episode of minor depression were found to have a high likelihood of suffering from a major depression within two years -- a so-called "double depression.'' These children are most likely to suffer recurring episodes as the years go on, according to data to be published later this year in The Archives of General Psychiatry by Kovacs
"Depression interferes with a child's emotional development,'' Kovacs