Modification of DSM-IV criteria for depressed preschool children

Joan L. Luby, Christine Mrakotsky, Amy Heffelfinger, Kathy Brown, Martha Hessler, Edward Spitznagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations


Objective: This study compared the severity of depression in preschoolers diagnosed by standard versus modified DSM-IV criteria for major depression. Method: A group of 145 preschoolers and their caregivers underwent a diagnostic assessment for preschool children. A factor analysis of depressive symptoms from the group was performed to derive a depression severity score. Scores were compared among four groups: standard DSM-IV major depression, modified DSM-IV major depression, DSM-IV attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or oppositional defiant disorder, and no disorder. Results: A hierarchy in severity emerged, with significant differences among all four groups. Preschoolers meeting standard criteria displayed the highest severity, followed by those who met modified criteria. Both depressed groups had significantly higher severity than the two comparison groups. Conclusions: Standard DSM-IV criteria captured the most severely affected preschoolers, missing a substantial proportion of children with potentially clinically significant but less severe symptoms who were captured by modified DSM-IV criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1172
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

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    Luby, J. L., Mrakotsky, C., Heffelfinger, A., Brown, K., Hessler, M., & Spitznagel, E. (2003). Modification of DSM-IV criteria for depressed preschool children. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(6), 1169-1172.