How do you know when and how to find a psychiatrist for your child/teen? A parent's guide to child & teen psychiatry.

As a parent, your child’s well-being is your top priority. This includes their mental health just as much as their physical health. But when it comes to addressing mental health concerns, you might wonder: pediatrician vs. psychiatrist – who should you see? 

While both play crucial roles in your child’s healthcare, their areas of expertise differ. Here’s a breakdown to help you navigate this decision:

Why Would My Child Need to See a Teen Psychiatrist?

Life as a teen can be tough. They’re dealing with a ton of pressure, from school and friends to figuring out who they are in this crazy world. Sometimes, these pressures can lead to mental health challenges. Here are some signs that seeing a teen psychiatrist might be a good idea:

  • Mood Swings: Is your teen experiencing extreme highs and lows, feeling down for weeks at a time, or irritable all the time? We like to think about the frequency, duration, and intensity of these episodes.  If any of them feel extreme, it could be related to increases in anxiety or depression.
  • Loss of Interest: Teenagers are all about hanging out with friends, trying new things, and having fun. If your child has lost interest in the activities they used to love, it could be a sign of something deeper going on.
  • School Issues: Is your usually good student suddenly struggling in school, having trouble focusing, or skipping classes? This could be related to an underlying mental health issue.
  • Sleep Changes: Is your teen sleeping all the time, or are they wide awake at night battling insomnia? Either extreme could be a sign of a problem.
  • Unhealthy Habits: Are you noticing your teen turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with their struggles? This is a serious issue that needs professional help.

What is an Adolescent Psychiatrist?

An adolescent psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in the mental health of teenagers. They understand the unique challenges that teens face and are skilled at diagnosing and treating mental health issues.

Here’s what makes a teen psychiatrist uniquely qualified to help your teenager:

  • Medical Expertise: They are medical doctors who understand how mental health conditions can manifest physically.
  • Specialized Training: They have years of specialized training focused on adolescents. They can connect with teens on a level that other doctors might struggle with.
  • Diagnostic Skills: They are experts at figuring out what’s causing your teen’s struggles, whether it’s anxiety, depression, ADHD, or something else.
  • Personalized Treatment: They can develop a personalized treatment plan specifically tailored to your teen’s needs, which might include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
  • Collaborative Approach: They understand that you, as a parent, are a vital part of your teen’s support system and will work with you to create a treatment plan that involves the whole family.

When Should I Worry About My Child’s Mental Health?

Every teen has their moments of moodiness and drama, but certain behaviors can be red flags if they persist over weeks or months and impact daily life:

  • Persistent Sadness: Is your teen constantly feeling down, hopeless, or unmotivated? This could be a sign of depression.
  • Loss of Interest in Activities: If your child has lost interest in activities they used to love and seems withdrawn, it might indicate a deeper issue.
  • Academic Struggles: Falling grades, difficulty focusing, or skipping classes can be symptoms of an underlying mental health issue.
  • Sleep Problems: Changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much or having trouble falling asleep, can be a sign of a problem.
  • Substance Use: If your teen is turning to drugs or alcohol to cope, this is a serious issue that needs professional attention.

Trust Your Instincts

As a parent, you know your child best. If you feel that something isn’t right, don’t ignore it. Early intervention is crucial. Reaching out to a teen psychiatrist can make a significant difference. They can help identify the problem and develop a treatment plan to get your teen back on track. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help. It shows you’re a caring parent who wants the best for your child.

What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Mental Health Issues

If you’re worried about your teen’s mental health, the first step is to talk to them. Let them know you care and you’re there to support them. Then, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or a teen psychiatrist. They can do a thorough evaluation and recommend the best course of treatment for your child.

Just Remember – You Got This!

Taking care of your teen’s mental health is just as important as taking care of their physical health. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Teen psychiatrists are there to support you and your child on this journey. With the right help, your teen can overcome their challenges and thrive.

Fostering growth through connection.

Contact Info

Fax: 844-705-0170

Locations throughout Virginia & North Carolina. 

Quick Links

Therapy Payment Portal