Link to full paper : From early withdrawal reaction to infant depression: A baby alone does exist


Despite the frequent use of the term and although it is a key notion in evaluation, infant depression remains poorly defined and assessed since the initial work of René Spitz. This paper reviews recent aspects of infant depression related to classification, issues in infancy, attachment disorders, relationship disorders, maternal depression, failure to thrive and protein energy malnutrition. The actual scope of depression might include some aspects of protein energy malnutrition, a frequent and severe disease in tropical and developing countries, and some aspects of failure to thrive as observed in some multi-problem families in western countries. There might be a continuum between withdrawal reaction and infant depression. Withdrawal reaction is observed in various organic or psychopathological conditions, and could be used as an alarm symptom to screen infants in well-baby clinics. Infant depression is difficult to recognize, and delay in its recognition may have important developmental consequences. © 1997 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health

Expert’s note: this article is a theoretical article that reviews the notion of depression in the baby and the link with relational withdrawal. It is a very important basic article because it allows to situate the notion of relational withdrawal of the baby in relation to early psychopathology and to the evolution of clinical concepts such as depression and lack of care.