Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

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Child and adolescent psychiatry, also known as pediatric psychiatry, is a discipline dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to children’s feelings, thinking, and behavior. A qualified psychiatrist with specialized knowledge of the impact of biological, psychological, and social factors on children and adolescents provides this diagnosis and treatment. This psychiatry category is classified into two more subdivisions: infant psychiatry and adolescent psychiatry.

Since the development phases of children are more active and critical, the diagnosis and treatment of their mental and emotional challenges are essentially different from those of adults.

Common Psychiatric Disorders in Children

Psychiatric disorders among children are generally more severe than in adults. This is because these disorders have a more intense and longer-lasting impact on the way children behave, learn, and manage their emotions. The most common psychiatric disorders in children are as follows.

Psychotic disorders

These disorders are characterized by a child’s impaired ability to respond emotionally, think clearly, and communicate normally. Psychotic disorders also cause delusions and hallucinations and change the way children understand reality. These disorders are more common among children and adolescents with bipolar disease, depression, or schizophrenia.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders, or affective disorders, are mental health conditions ranging from bipolar disorder to depression. These disorders affect your child’s mood quite enough to cause a significant change in their emotional state. These conditions are different from occasional mood swings and are generally characterized by feelings and thought processes that are persistent, difficult to manage, and intense.

Anxiety disorders

Children may feel anxious occasionally, which is not a cause of concern. Some events like starting school or moving to a new area can trigger anxiety in children. However, some children tend to remain anxious for longer durations, which can interfere with their social life, school, and home. This is when professional help from a qualified child psychiatrist becomes crucial.

The most common symptoms of anxiety in children include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of sleep or frequent nightmares
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fidgety behavior
  • Tummy aches
  • Increased inclination towards getting angry
  • Negative thoughts
  • Aggression

Eating disorders

The rate of eating disorders in children below 12 has grown quite a bit in recent years. Therefore, parents or anyone working with young children must know about the symptoms of an eating disorder. One of the most significant signs of an eating disorder is poor body growth.

While the exact reasons for eating disorders in children are not yet known, researchers have been able to identify risk factors that might lead to these disorders. According to research, eating disorders can be heritable, meaning that children whose siblings or parents have eating disorders are also at a high risk of developing these disorders.

Attention Seeking Disorder

Attention seeking is a common behavioral development among children. They adopt this behavior to fulfill their demands, such as a new toy, something to eat, or just quality time with their parents. But the reason they show this behavior is not as important as the way they do. Sometimes, they go to an extreme to seek attention and may seem like persisting with this behavior. This is when you may need professional help. This help can be in the form of a psychotherapy session.

Behavioral Disorder

Behavioral disorders in children are referred to as challenging or complex behaviors beyond their age norms. These disorders can originate from temporary stressors as well as more chronic problems. The most common behavioral disorders in children are:

Development Disorder

A development disorder is referred to as an impairment in a child’s behavioral, cognitive, physical, or language development. This disorder can impact the mental as well as physical abilities of a child and leads to trouble performing routine tasks. This problem tends to last a lifetime.

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Assessment and Evaluation

The child psychiatry evaluation involves an interview during which the psychiatrist attempts to get information about symptoms of a particular disorder. This evaluation also aims to encourage your child to describe the level of symptom severity.

Factors evaluated during a child psychiatric assessment include:

  • Concerns about the child’s behavioral or emotional problems
  • Physical health and overall body development
  • Parental care history
  • Parental mental illness
  • Family relationships

One of the most integral parts of psychiatric assessment is a mental state examination, during which the psychiatrist performs a careful observation of the child’s subjective experiences. The practitioner also analyzes the children’s interaction within their families, particularly with parents.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of any psychiatric disorders in children involves a careful evaluation of the patterns of emotional and behavioral symptom flare-ups. The most common diagnostic techniques used in this regard are:

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)
  • International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

The diagnostic procedure may also include formulation. It is a standard practice where the practitioner weighs social, cultural, and contextual factors to understand a psychiatric issue and its causes.

Treatment

The treatment of a child’s psychiatric issue depends on its evaluation and diagnosis. The psychiatrist will choose from various treatment options after gathering necessary information during diagnosis.

Here is a list of treatment options to address psychiatric disorders in children:

  • Behavior therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Problem-solving therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Parent training program
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Child Psychiatry FAQs

What does a child psychiatrist do?

A psychiatrist is a physician specializing in the prevention and treatment of problems related to children and adolescents' feelings, thinking, and behavior.

Is it better to see a psychiatrist or psychologist?

A psychiatrist can address more severe mental health issues than a psychologist. Therefore, it is generally better to see a psychiatrist if your child has more intense mental health issues.

Consult an Expert

Psychiatric disorders in children can be a significant worry for every concerned parent. The good news is these disorders are manageable with professional help. You can meet a highly qualified psychiatrist at EuroMed Clinic Dubai. Our top-of-the-line medical center offers optimal solutions for your healthcare or aesthetic concerns. So, fill out the form below to book a consultation.

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    Dr. Bahjat Balbous is a DHA-licensed psychiatrist having more than 25 years of experience. He uses the latest Neurofeedback therapy in treating ADHD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other related disorders.

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