How is child psychiatry different from adult psychiatry? Find a child Psychiatrist in Kolkata.

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Child psychiatry, is a specialized stream dedicated to study and treat psychological, emotional and behavioural issues /disorders seen in childhood. From around 1920’s, child psychiatry has been recognized as different division in psychiatry. Though child psychiatry might look parallel to adult psychiatry, there is a huge ideological difference in health service model between this two streams. The child health initiatives are way more focused on protection and care rather than adult health care. There are few areas in which child psychiatry differs from adult psychiatry

  1. Etiological Differences between child and adult psychiatry: In childhood, lot more focus in given on developmental stages. In adult phase, development is less serious and way more gradual than Child and adolescents. So in child psychiatry, work is focused on way more pliable

and sensitive minds which go through quick transformations. Here practitioners need to consider the under developed mind and their intricacies and take decisions.

  1. Importance of the role of the family: Unlike adults, children are dependent on their parents and for providing any kind of intervention, parents need to be on board with the practitioner. Psychiatrist who is providing care for child population, not only need to think about client care and satisfaction, but also they need to convince parents and see that they are party to the whole communication. Parental management is one of the biggest aspects of child psychiatry. There are few therapies were parental involvement is directly required like: Parent child interaction therapy, behaviour therapy.
  2. Difference in symptom presentation in two populations: The various presentation seen at childhood are:
  1. Neuro-developmental Disorders: When a child is unable to reach developmental milestones at proper age, it is called developmental delay. For example: Not speaking sentences till 3 years’ age / not being able to walk till 1.5 years of age. Generally developmental delay is seen in Intellectual disability. Child with less than average intelligence quotient (IQ) would struggle with day to day activities like academics, decision making and coping. Other neuro-developmental difficulties are poor attention span and hyperactivity, technically called as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity (ADHD). Children find it difficult to attend to details, easy distractibility, poor organizational skills, restlessness. Scholastic difficulty even after adequate effort and average IQ called Dyslexia or learning disorder. Child having problem with socialization and communication problem termed Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
  2. Behavioural Problems: All young children are often naughty, defiant and impulsive from time to time, which is perfectly normal. Few children have behaviours which are outside behavioural norms. That kind of behaviours are problematic and gets labelled as behavioural disorder. Oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder are common disorders with behavioural issues as primary problem area like stealing, hitting, shouting, truancy etc.
  3. Emotional Problems: Disorders associated with emotional problems are anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they can happen in childhood as well as adulthood. The main difference is the symptomatic manifestation of the problems. In childhood emotional problems have more behavioural manifestation like restlessness, crying, temper tantrum than verbal expression. In childhood, most of the cases children themselves are not aware about their problems and express after repeated probing.
  1. Difference in terms of treatment provided

There are several differences in terms of treatment in child and adult psychiatry.
  1. Counselling is first line of treatment for children
  2. For neurodevelopmental disorder behaviour therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are utilised
  3. Child protection is very important part of child intervention as children are vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuses. For mental health practitioner, it is imperative to ensure the safety and security of child even in his/her own family environment.
  4. Good therapeutic alliance is important for therapy to work with child and adolescents.

Mental health professionals working with child population needs to have considerable experience in the field. Working with child population needs ability to connect with child population, build rapport, having patience, understanding and respecting their point of views. Child Psychologist could be found in hospitals or mental health establishments. Multispecialty mental health clinics, where holistic treatment is provided, might have specialised professionals working with child population. Please seek help if a child needs it, because early diagnosis and intervention can improve the chance of cure.

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