Psychiatry and Psychology
Nearly every child or teen faces some challenges as they grow up because of peer pressure, family changes, a death or other loss, managing a chronic illness, or simply because it isn’t easy making the change from being a child to being an adult.
For any number of reasons, your child’s emotions and behaviors can cause them to become anxious, depressed, have an eating disorder or have problems in relationships at home and at school. When your child has trouble coping, he or she can get in trouble with school or the law, or even consider suicide.
It’s important to seek help for children and teens who have eating disorders, consider suicide, or have anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. You should not be afraid to speak with a mental health professional even if you’re unsure whether your child needs help.
Our experts in child psychiatry have faculty status at the University of Texas Southwestern, so they have access to the latest research and treatments for children and adolescents. We’re recognized experts on treating eating disorders, depression and other mood disorders, and in preventing suicide in children and teens.
What are psychiatry and psychology?
Psychiatry is a medical specialty. Psychiatrists attend medical school and psychiatry residency training. Our child psychiatrists receive additional training in caring for children and adolescents.
Psychology is the study, treatment and prevention of problems with human behavior. Our psychologists have master’s degrees and specialize in child psychology.
Neuropsychology focuses on studying and treating problems related to brain function caused by brain disorders or injuries.
Our psychiatrists, psychologists and neuropsychologists are supported by a team of therapists, nurses and other professionals committed to serving children, adolescents and their families. The attending physicians supervise the psychiatrists currently in their rotation fellowship and residency programs. Supervision is provided during your child's psychiatric treatment at all levels of care.
We have psychiatrists and psychologists in our hospitals and outpatient clinics who are dedicated to Children’s Health℠ and who are here for our patients and families all day long.
Reasons children need psychiatry and psychological services
Poor mental health can affect overall well-being and can lead to substance abuse, severe eating disorders or suicide. Many children experience loss or stress, and others must manage their chronic illness at a young age. Some children have a disorder that runs in the family and puts them at higher risk for depression or anxiety.
It can be difficult for parents and others who are close to children and teens to know when certain behaviors are “normal” for an age group or situation. But if your child or teen has a serious problem such as an eating disorder, mood disorder, or is considering suicide, you should not discount the behavior as simple moodiness or as part of a stage of development.
If you notice that your young child or teen has sudden or major changes in behavior, such as crying or becoming angry or worried more often, withdrawing from friends and family or losing weight, you should seek more information about possible eating or mood disorders.
If your child or teen shows extreme anxiety, depression, problems with nightmares and sleeping, aggressive behaviors or if he talks of suicide, seek immediate help from your hospital’s emergency department.
Preparing for your child’s services
Some psychiatric and psychological services begin as emergencies, when your child or teen is in a mental health crisis. Sometimes, parents have to deal with tasks such as admission paperwork and insurance approval for payment in addition to the emotional stress caused by concern about their child. Being prepared to answer questions about your child’s and family’s physical and mental health history for your child’s initial psychiatric evaluation, and having all information necessary to process insurance paperwork, can ease some of this burden.
When there is time, parents and their children should discuss their first appointment before arriving for the visit. Parents should understand that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals do not blame parents or their children for the problems their children face.
At Children's Health, we offer one of the most comprehensive specialty programs available for children and teens who need psychiatry and psychological services. We work closely with you, your child and family to help your child in one setting over the course of your child’s condition.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Facts for Families
- National Institute of Mental Health: What Is Depression?
- American Psychiatric Association: What Is a Psychiatrist?
- Medline Plus: Child Mental Health
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Helping Children Cope with Crisis: Just for Parents
- National Institute of Mental Health: The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction
- National Academy of Neuropsychology Inc: Concussions in Sports
- American Psychological Association: Why Is Children’s Mental Health Important