Co-occurring disorders in children and teens

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Co-occurring disorders in children and teens

Many people who have psychiatric vulnerabilities don´t simply have one. That´s probably because our diagnostic way of thinking about psychiatric illnesses isn´t yet rooted in sort of the underlying biology of the brain. We look at symptoms and children who express anxiety, teenagers who express anxiety also express depression. They may self medicate with alcohol or marijuana to try to change how they feel. So that child I have just described could have an anxiety disorder a depressive disorder and a substance abuse disorder. They have three co-occurring disorders when in fact what you have probably is a vulnerability in their brain towards managing emotional stress, managing their experience and it manifests in these different ways. Fortunately, some of the treatments are common to work for all those kinds of conditions. So cognitive behavior therapy works for anxiety and for depression. So the co-occurring problem, that many people don´t simply have one psychiatric diagnosis is common and I think challenges a lot of us in the field. But the truth is we just have to understand it better both at a neuroscience level and at on each child at a time level.

Watch Video: Co-occurring disorders in children and teens by Kenneth Duckworth, MD, ...


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Kenneth Duckworth, MD

Psychiatrist, Harvard Professor & Medical Director for NAMI

Ken Duckworth, MD, serves as the medical director for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He is triple board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Adult, Child and Adolescent, and Forensic Psychiatry and has extensive experience in the public health arena.

Dr. Duckworth is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University Medical School, and has served as a board member of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. Dr. Duckworth has held clinical and leadership positions in community mental health, school psychiatry and now also works as Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Prior to joining NAMI in 2003, Dr. Duckworth served as Acting Commissioner of Mental Health and the Medical Director for Department of Mental Health of Massachusetts, as a psychiatrist on a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team, and Medical Director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.

Dr. Duckworth attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with honors and Temple University School of Medicine where he was named to the medical honor society, AOA. While at Temple, he won awards for his work in psychiatry and neurology. He also has a family member living with mental illness.

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