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Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy deals with the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of mental illnesses and behavioral disorders in childhood and adolescence. Medical and psychological procedures aim to establish and maintain the mental health of patients.

What is Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Psychotherapy?

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy deals with the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of mental illnesses and behavioral disorders in childhood and adolescence.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy is an independent medical specialty. It deals with the research, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses and social abnormalities in adolescents. The prevention of mental illness is also one of her core tasks.

In order to achieve these goals, findings in medicine, biology and psychology are used in the child and adolescent psychiatric and psychotherapeutic practice. These are used for the treatment of mental, psychosomatic and neurological diseases, for intervention in conspicuous social behavior and for the rehabilitation of addictions.

Boys and girls as well as adolescents up to the age of 18 are considered to be children and adolescents. In exceptional cases, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists can also treat older adolescents. These have either completed a medical degree with further education in a child and adolescent psychiatric clinic or a degree in psychology or pedagogy and a subsequent education. Accordingly, a distinction between a treatment by a doctor and by a psychotherapist.

Treatments & Therapies

The basis of diagnostics in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy are two international manuals. These are catalogs of known diseases that contain a classification, definition and brief description of these diseases. It is the ICD (English abbreviation for "International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems") and the DSM (English abbreviation for "Diagnostic and Statistical Guide to Mental Disorders"). As extensive as they are in the area of ​​mental illness in children and adolescents, the range of treatment offered in this field is as diverse.

This spectrum initially includes mental retardation and states of dementia that may already occur in children and adolescents. These may be related to developmental disorders such as reading and writing spelling disorders as well as arithmetic disorders, while on the other hand dyslexia or dyscalculia can not account for diminished intelligence. Motor disorders can also have psychological or psychiatric causes.

In the field of hyperkinetic disorders in particular the controversial among scientists attention deficit syndrome (ADHD) is mentioned, which has been diagnosed in Germany alone in 2011 in over 600, 000 children and adolescents and is usually treated pharmacologically.

Even tics can occur in childhood and adolescence as well as typical behavioral problems that may be associated with self-injurious behavior. In a disturbed speech behavior, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists work together with speech therapists and speech therapy educators.

Other diseases include autism and other disorders of perception and communication. Schizophrenia can also occur in childhood and must be treated psychiatric and psychotherapeutic. Affective disorders include depression, manic and bipolar disorders. Similar serious may be personality disorders, disorders of social and sexual behavior.

In childhood and adolescence anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as stress disorders can occur. These can, but do not have to be associated with traumatic experiences. Identifying and remedying their cause is also one of the tasks of psychiatrists and psychotherapists specializing in this age group. Another problem that practitioners often face is eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, as well as obesity. Addictions often occur at this age.

Diagnosis & Examination Methods

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy is interdisciplinary. This means that scientific knowledge from different areas converges, that different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches coexist, complement each other and compete with each other. The basis of diagnostics in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy are the anamnesis interview, the medical examination and psychological testing.

Anamnesis is the history of the disease. Since children and adolescents are often unable to describe them, caregivers play a crucial role. In the course of the anamnesis, not only the cause of the investigation is determined, the doctor or psychologist formulated the question for the further investigation steps, which are crucial for the selection of medical and psychological testing. The medical examination may use different procedures depending on the course of the anamnesis interview. The physical examination by the doctor and the determination of the laboratory values ​​of the patient is only the first step, also imaging techniques such as computed tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging can be used.

Once diagnoses have been established, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists have access to a variety of tests and therapies, including drug treatment, depth psychology and behavioral procedures. Treatment with psychotropic drugs can only be done by the doctor. Frequently used drugs from the group of stimulants, antidepressants and neuroleptics. Pharmacotherapy is rarely the only measure complemented by session-based and behavioral procedures.

In addition, systemic-family-related approaches are of great importance in this area. Not only does the affected child or the adolescent become the center of attention. Rather, his behavior within the family constellation, in school and private context is considered. The therapy of children and adolescents can be inpatient, in specialized psychiatric clinics, or outpatient. The legal basis for the work of child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists is laid down by law in the Child and Youth Welfare Act (KJHG) and the Psycho-Ill-Law (PsychKG).


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