Joy G. Schulterbrandt and Allen Raskin DEPRESSION IN CHILDHOOD New York; Raven Press, 1977, 192 pp., $14 cloth, $9.50 paper.
The diagnositic definition of childhood depression as well as the question of its existence have been a long-standing controversy among psychiatrists and child psychiatrists. The papers and the discussion papers that were presented in a conference on childhood depression held in September, 1975, comprise the chapters of this book and reflect this controversy.
Maria Kovacs and Aaron T. Beck use an empirical-clinical approach in rheir article. They review the lists of characteristic symptoms developed by several authors in defining childhood depression. Carl P. Malmquist's approach is clinical and developmental. His article studies childhood depression in all stages of childhood, in contrast to Kovacs and Beck, who present the symptom lists for 10-year-olds and older children. Rachel Gittleman Klein's article attempts to define childhood depression descriptively, while Judith L. Rappaport's approach is psychopharmacologic. The summaries of research findings on animal depression by William T. McKinney, Jr., are most interesting. John S. Watson presents the behavioral model of childhood depression.
The papers grouped under the title of "Overview and Future Directions" summarize the preceding presentations and recommend a variety of research and study designs and approaches. These should be valuable for those who are planning research on childhood depression.
The authors of this book present two basic approaches to the diagnostic definition of childhood depression:
1. Some of them apply the criteria for adult depression to children with some modification. The outcome is not comprehensive and satisfactory, since children are not little adults.
2. Others utilize a developmental approach that deals with depression in all phases of childhood. However, the definitions by these authors show a lack of clarity, possibly due to the fact that childhood disorders do not always present the symptom consistency seen in adulthood disorders. This is not unexpected, since children are ever-developing beings.
This book is a valuable addition to the library of child psychopathology. Mental health professionals who are interested in in-depth study of childhood depression will turn to this volume for direction and knowledge.