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Children and Adolescents

For a child, expressing emotions can be a challenge.  Children are often incapable of putting into words the emotions they are feeling inside.  Instead, it is common for a child to demonstrate their unhappiness or worries in their behavior.  For a child, the symptoms of depression or anxiety can be anger, irritability, social withdrawel, boredom, school refusal, or difficulty concentrating.  Or they may have physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, headaches, or stomachaches.  These symptoms can lead to a child being misdiagnosed or labeled as a difficult student.  Parents often struggle with the desire to help their child and the fear of having them labeled throughout their lives.  As a parent myself, I understand this fear.  Many physicians are quick to diagnose a child with ADHD without exploring the possibility that the child is having difficulty focusing because of depression or anxiety.  Or perhaps their focus is lacking because they are having difficulty adjusting to a life change such as a death in the family, a divorce, or a change in neighborhood or school.

There are many options available for treating children and adolescents.  Some are backed by science and some are not. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is based on scientific evidence and has been proven to be effective in treating children and adolescents.  CBT currently has the most research evidence for the treatment of anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and behavior problems.  The focus of CBT is on the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.  If a child has a negative thought about him/herself than that will effect confidence levels and self worth.  By focusing on those negative thoughts, the child will learn to challenge them and create a more positive view of his or her self.  That new found confidence and sense of pride will provide the foundation necessary for success in their lives.