Shattered maternal identity and early childhood depression


  • Sara Rodrigues Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Santo António
  • Pedro Samuel Pinto Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Santo António
  • Vânia Martins Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centro Hospitalar Universitário de Santo António



child neglect, depressive disorder, gender dysphoria


Introduction: Depression in early childhood was first described by Spitz in 1940. The literature reports an association between depressive symptoms in infants and early affective deprivation, pinpointing maternal depression as a major risk factor. However, there is little evidence on the impact of maternal comorbid depression and gender dysphoria on the risk of depression in early childhood.
Case report: A 25-month-old toddler was referred to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Outpatient Department for persistent irritability and sleep disturbances. His mother had persistent depressive disorder and had never felt comfortable in her role as a mother, struggling with caregiving and responding to the child’s emotional needs. During follow-up, maternal symptoms of gender dysphoria were identified.
Discussion: Mother-infant bonding and responsive caregiving are essential for adequate socioemotional development.


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How to Cite

Rodrigues S, Pinto PS, Martins V. Shattered maternal identity and early childhood depression. REVNEC [Internet]. 2023Sep.14 [cited 2024Jun.14];32(2):137-40. Available from:



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