The Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist is a physician specifically educated to diagnose and treat disorders of youth and their familes.
Children and adolescents may present with disturbances of behavior in the family, in their peer group, or in their school accomplishment. Underneath these symptoms there may be indications of biological disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or attention deficit disorder. Psychological issues that appear in children are often related to trauma, stress, medical illness or dysfunction in the family. Often times, both biological conditions and situational issues lead to the difficulties.
The Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist first studies the biological and family history of the patient, interviews the parents and meets with the child. After this evaluation he may recommend obtaining information from the school and may have the parents fill out Inventories, as well as recommend psychological testing for the child, particularly if there are learning disabilities present.
An integrated treatment plan is then developed. The talking therapies are used, individual and family therapy, particularly, are useful. For younger children, a play format is provided because younger children are more comfortable expressing themselves through play and in the context of having activities to lessen the pressures. Support and direction to the family must be provided so the skills are integrated, practiced, and monitored.
Increasingly, medications are used in children for mood disorders, anxiety disorders and attention deficit disorders among others. Often medications are used to manage extremely difficult behavioral problems, as in autistic children or developmentally disabled youth. We see an alarming amount of drug use and dependency occurring in our young adolescent patients that requires treatment.