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* This is the Professional Version. *

Overview of Psychosocial Problems in Adolescents

By Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School;Children's Hospital, Boston

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Clinicians must be aware of the high frequency of psychosocial disorders that occur during this stage of life. Depression is common and should be screened for actively (see Depressive Disorders in Children and Adolescents). Although suicide is a rare occurrence (5/100,000), suicidal ideation is common, with as many as 10% of adolescents reporting thoughts about suicide in their lifetime according to some studies (see Suicidal Behavior in Children and Adolescents). Anxiety often manifests during adolescence (see Overview of Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents), as do mood disorders and disruptive behavioral disorders (eg, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder—see Disruptive Behavioral Disorders). Individuals with thought disorders (psychosis) will often present with a "psychotic break" during adolescence. Eating disorders, especially in girls, are common (see Eating Disorders). Some patients go to extraordinary lengths to hide symptoms of an eating disorder.

The clinician who has developed an open, trusting relationship with an adolescent often can identify these problems, develop a therapeutic relationship, offer practical advice and, when appropriate, encourage the adolescent to accept a referral to specialized care.

* This is the Professional Version. *