Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 101
Growing up involves a series of challenges for children and adolescents. Typical child development necessitates a series of adjustments and changes for both the child and parents as the child experiences ongoing physical and emotional growth and maturity. Some youth struggle more than others when it comes to daily activities such as managing their emotions or behavior, succeeding academically, and making and keeping friends. Often parents wonder whether a child’s development is within the spectrum of “normal” and how to best help their child.
There are a variety of mental health professionals who are trained to evaluate and treat youth. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are physicians with special training to help youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties. A child and adolescent psychiatrist has graduated from medical school and completed at least 3 years of an adult psychiatry residency and 2 years of a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship. A child and adolescent psychiatrist becomes board certified after passing examinations by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both adult as well as child and adolescent psychiatry.
A child and adolescent psychiatrist can help determine why a child or teen may be struggling in one or more areas of his or her life. Mental health issues often look different in children and adolescents than they do in adults, and a child and adolescent psychiatrist can help ensure that a correct diagnosis is made and appropriate resources and treatments are pursued. Child and adolescent psychiatrists diagnose and treat a range of conditions, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, pervasive developmental delays (PDD), eating disorders and substance use disorders.
The psychiatrist gathers information from the parents, child, teachers, pediatricians and other professionals to elicit a complete history of the child’s functioning. The psychiatrist integrates this information to formulate an assessment of the child’s strengths and vulnerabilities and to develop a treatment plan. Child and adolescent psychiatrist are trained to provide treatment tailored to the child’s individual needs, which can include psychotherapy, prescribing medications, providing education about healthy lifestyle strategies (sleep, diet, exercise, mindfulness, etc) and providing advice to parents on strategies for helping their child or teen to better manage emotions and behavior. The psychiatrist, child and parents work together as a team to help the child feel better and function better.
If you feel your child needs additional help or if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our office at 919-636-5240. We are here to help in anyway we can as well as answer any additional questions you might have.