What You Need to Know about Anaclitic Depression

Anaclitic Depression

The mood you’re in at any given time, whether good or bad, can drastically affect how you respond to a wide range of stimuli. Happy people tend to make better decisions than people experiencing a bout of anxiety. On the same token, those who feel depressed often forget to make plans for the long-run, preventing them from achieving success and thereby exacerbating the problem.

Contrarily, properly managed mood disorders can be less detrimental to the quality of a person’s life. The first step is recognition, but that requires knowledge. And since anaclitic depression affects millions of people every year, it’s important to know the causes, risk factors, symptoms and treatments before it gets out of hand.

What Is Anaclitic Depression?

Once confused with an old condition called “hospitalism” wherein an infant would waste away while in the hospital, anaclitic depression is a mood disorder that causes general feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in any number of things. And although it’s a relatively common condition in adults, anaclitic depression is a term typically reserved for the very small children who experience it. 

Now called maternal deprivation, the word “anaclitic” is derived from two Latin words – “Ana,” which means toward and “klino,” which means to lean. Basically, anaclitic depression describes a dependence of an infant on its mother or mother substitute. Without proper amounts of vital contact during the formative months and years of development, children can become susceptible to this mood disorder regardless of their age or physical health.

What Are the Symptoms of Anaclitic Depression?

The symptoms a suffer of anaclitic depression will experience varies from person to person. However, the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Generalized sadness or despair
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Having trouble focusing and/or concentrating on tasks
  • Overall feelings of discontent
  • Bouts of anger
  • Irritability, even and especially when their “privacy bubble” is broken
  • Feeling frustrated quickly
  • Issues with sleep – either sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
  • An inexplicable loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • A lack of energy (lethargy)
  • Unhealthy food cravings
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiousness
  • Frequent isolation

If you or someone you know is dealing with anaclitic depression, be sure to seek one of the treatment options described below as soon as possible. Prolonged cases of serious anaclitic depression can become life-threatening if ignored.

What Are the Risk Factors of Anaclitic Depression?

Anaclitic depression requires a doctor’s diagnosis, but the risk factors can be mitigated in the meantime with thoughtful lifestyle choices and responsible habits, especially as the caretaker of a small child. Risk factors for anaclitic depression include (but are not always limited to) to the following:

  • Biochemistry – If the sufferer is deprived of certain mood stabilizing chemicals, he or she may experience anaclitic depression. Look for shortages of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Genetics – If a member of your immediate family has any kind of depression, your chances of suffering from it are greatly increased. In fact, the APA states found that when one identical twin has depression, the other twin will develop it in more than 70% of cases.
  • Sleep Problems – If a person isn’t sleeping right for too long it can turn into anaclitic depression and/or manifest itself as similar symptoms.
  • Illness – Certain illnesses can lead to bouts of anxiety and depression, especially in children. Anaclitic depression tends to present among minors who have been hospitalized or somehow quarantined away from their main caretaker(s).
  • Abuse and/or Neglect – Experiencing traumatic abuse and/or neglect can turn an otherwise well-adjusted person into an anaclitic depression patient. Hence, this mood disorder is often called “the lack of love disease.”
  • Gender – According to studies, females are more susceptible to anaclitic depression than males.
  • Major Life Events – Things like divorce, moving, changing schools and/or jobs, and other major life events can pose a serious threat to a person’s mental wellbeing if not managed correctly.

Can Anaclitic Depression Be Treated?

Fortunately, there is no anaclitic depression that is too deep to be treated with the right measures and by the right healthcare professional. Common treatments include, but again are not limited to, the following:

  • Cuddling and/or Physical Touch
  • Positive Social Interaction
  • Psychotherapy and Counseling
  • Medication (both over-the-counter and prescription grade)
  • Mindfulness Meditation

Be sure to talk to your doctor for more information on each of the treatment options mentioned here. As always, never let suspected anaclitic depression go unattended and never try to treat yourself or another person without medical supervision, especially if taking medication is your primary choice.

If you found this article informative, you may also be interested in reading Ways to Relieve Stress.