“Anaclitic Depression” The impairment of an infant’s physical, social, and intellectual development following separation from its mother or primary caregiver.

Let’s think about that a moment? Infant Depression!!!

The crucial role of “present and active motherhood” in the behavioral and psychological development of an infant was further proven with the concept of anaclitic depression, a form of depression in very young children.

Anaclitic depressionAnaclitic depression is a physical and psycho-social form of disturbance among infants caused by separation from their mothers from three months or longer after the birth, up to a year.

The term “anaclitic” was coined by psychiatrist René Spitz, which meant “leaning upon.” As such, anaclitic depression means lack of maternal nurturing or absence of a mother to lean upon to during the very crucial first six months of an infant’s life.

Due to the long-term absence of maternal care and nurturing (feeding, holding, cuddling, massaging, and natural expressions of maternal love directed to a growing infant), the children exhibited a depressed condition characterized by observable physical and psychological symptoms. These include sleeplessness, anxiety, irritation, weight loss, frequent illness, being socially withdrawn, and a retardation in psychomotor development. These symptoms often get worse when the separation from the mother continues.

babyTests conducted by pediatric psychologists showed that infants who were reunited with their mothers after six months of separation reversed their condition and returned to normal physical, psychological and emotional health.

But children who went on without maternal care, either from their biological mother or a replacement mother figure exhibited the worst conditions – mental retardation and marasmus or wasting due to starvation (unresponsive to feeding).