As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I've had the privilege of having intimate access to the lives of hundreds of children and their families throughout my career. It is unfortunate that childhood offers no protection against mental illness. I've treated children with a broad range of disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Tic disorders like Tourette's, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders, and various Anxiety disorders. In the U.S., one in five children/adolescents struggle with mental health issues at any given time. The causes of mental illness in children are complex and varied, never resulting from just a single factor.
Parents come to my office with a multitude of questions and concerns. They ask: "What's going on with my child? Am I responsible for this? Do you think my child needs to be on medication? Why me? Why my child? Will my child be ok?" I see the anguish in their faces and hear the despair in their voices. I know that a parent, on some level, can only be as happy as their saddest child. If you feel that your child is struggling with psychiatric issues, I strongly urge you to seek psychiatric help. This should include a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation with special attention paid to the physical, genetic, developmental, emotional, educational, cognitive, peer, family and social components. A diagnosis and treatment plan will be developed and shared with you and your family. The best way to deal with childhood disorders is for parents to recognize the problem and find appropriate treatment. The following websites provide more complete information on psychiatric issues and are a good starting point.
National Institute of Mental Health
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Dr. Vanita Braver, M.D.