As a parent, you are normally the first person to notice emotional and/or behavioral disturbances with your child. Although this can be quite unsettling, it is important that you talk to your child in a calm and gentle manner. Opening the door to communication can help your child express his/her feelings in a safe, secure and supportive environment.
It is true that it can be hard to decide if and when you should seek professional treatment for your child, but it is important that you contact a psychiatrist if you feel that he/she is experiencing severe and/or chronic distress.
What is a Child Psychiatrist?
A child psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor that has successfully completed medical school and a clinical residency in general psychiatry and child psychiatry. As part of the residency requirements, a child psychiatrist must pass his/her state’s licensing and board certification examinations in his/her specialty area.
Once the child psychiatrist is licensed, he/she is given permission to counsel and prescribe medication to children (young children, adolescents and teenagers). He/she is also allowed to order lab tests and conduct diagnostic studies. Moreover, if a child is a danger to himself/herself and/or others, a child psychiatrist can admit him/her to the hospital for care.
The following signs may signal that your child needs a psychiatric evaluation:
A significant decline in academic performance
Excessive fear and anxiety (refusal to go to school, participate in age-appropriate activities and/or go to sleep)
Recurrent complaints of aches and pains
Hyperactivity (the need to constantly move)
Constant “bad” dreams (nightmares or night terrors)
Unpredictable temper tantrums
Promiscuity (sexualized behaviors)
Depression (chronic mood swings, a negative attitude, lack of appetite, insomnia and thoughts of suicide and death)
Alcohol and/or drug abuse/addiction
Regular angry outbursts, rage episodes and/or aggressive behaviors
Hostility towards authority figures, burglaries, truancy and/or property damage
Why Should I Take My Child To a Child Psychiatrist?
There are a variety of reasons why you should take your child to see a child psychiatrist. For instance, if you suspect that your child is suffering from a psychological disorder such as: anxiety disorders, clinical depression, obsessive and compulsive disorder, eating disorders, manic depression, etc. a child psychiatrist can help your child effectively manage his/her condition. In addition, if your child is experiencing high levels of stress at home or at school, a child psychiatrist can help him/her resolve his/her issues and reduce tension.
Moreover, you may decide to take your child to a child psychiatrist because your child’s counselor, clinical social worker or child psychologist believes that medication will help your child better cope with his/her psychological disorder, elevated stress-levels, behavioral problems and/or emotional distress. A child psychiatrist can help improve your child’s life by helping him/her better cope with challenging, confusing and conflicting feelings.
What are Some Advantages to Taking My Child to See a Child Psychiatrist?
Your child’s emotional distress is real. Even though you may be unsure whether or not your child is just “acting out” and “seeking attention” or really experiencing psychological distress, it is important to consult a child psychiatrist if you notice a significant change in his/her moods, attitude and/or behaviors. There may be a chemical imbalance in your child’s brain that needs to be corrected. If that is the case, a combination of medication and psychotherapy can improve your child’s quality of life.
It is important to understand that there is no shame in taking your child to see a child psychiatrist. A child psychiatrist is trained to treat issues that affect a child’s thought process and/or mental health. Most mental illnesses can be successfully treated with therapy and medication.
Although your child may avoid seeing a psychiatrist because of his/her fear of the psychiatric ward, it is important to make your child understand that most psychological disorders and emotional issues are successfully treated in an outpatient basis. Children are only admitted to the hospital when they are a danger to themselves and/or others.
It is true that psychiatrists can prescribe a variety of psychotropic medications (such as: anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications), but it is also true that many times these medicines can regulate your child’s moods, improve his/her behaviors and reduce stress. Your child may experience mild side-effects at the beginning, but over time they will diminish and your child will feel a whole lot better.
Your child’s medical records are confidential. Your child’s private information will not be shared with the public. You decide who knows your child’s medical history.
A child psychiatrist can really help your child have a happy and productive life. He/she can help your child recognize triggers, manage psychological disorders, resolve issues and effectively cope with life’s stresses. Moreover, a psychiatrist can offer your child a variety of medications that can help correct chemical imbalances in the brain, control moods, change negative and/or destructive behaviors and improve self-awareness.
Once your child has a good understanding of where the feelings are coming from, he/she will be better able to adapt to challenging and/or difficult situations. A psychiatrist can offer your child the best of both worlds – psychotherapy and prescription medications.