Adolescent and young adult health medicine is committed to providing excellent care services focused on the health and psychosocial needs of adolescents and young adults. Adolescent medicine is a specialized area of pediatric health care that concentrates on the wide-ranging physical and emotional issues of adolescents as they move through their pre-teen, teenage, and young adult years.
Areas of Service:
- Abnormal eating behaviors
- Binge eating
- Eating disorders
- Purging behaviors
- Rituals related to eating or food
- Chronic pain
- Hormonal concerns
- Menstrual issues
- Hormonal cycle control
- Irregular or heavy cycles
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Obesity and nutrition disorders
- Sexuality and gender related issues
- Gender and sexual orientation issues
- Sexual activity
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Pubertal concerns
- Timing or onset
- Related issues: irritability, depression, or anxiety
Other conditions are first identified or are exacerbated during pubertal development. These conditions can be distressing to adolescent individuals, parents and care providers alike, in part because of the interconnection with pubertal changes and other developmental issues.
Signs and symptoms that may represent a serious underlying condition include:
- Change in school performance
- Difficulty or discomfort with developmental issues (individual, parent or provider)
- Dizziness or passing out
- Persistent muscle aches or joint pain
- Experiencing heavy periods or menstrual cramping
- Experiencing lighter or irregular periods
- Skipping periods
- Lack of self esteem
- Self-imposed food restriction
- Self-harming behaviors
- Social isolation
- Vaginal discharge
- Weight changes (loss or gain)
We are also trained to treat varied areas within adolescent health such as developing sexuality, psychosocial issues, and substance abuse.
Early Treatment Improves Outcomes
Utilizing available consultative services and interventions can be very successful. Typically, the earlier the intervention begins, the better the outcome. We welcome a referral even if you are not certain of the underlying diagnosis. The initial consultation visit will be with an adolescent medicine trained physician who will evaluate all physical and emotional concerns you may have and initiate treatment. If this treatment requires evaluations by other members of our team we will assist with the schedule of those appointments.
Understanding the Teen Brain
It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.
The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.
In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not necessarily at the same rate. That’s why when teens experience overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.
What's a parent to do?
You’re the most important role model your kids have. Sure, their friends are important to them, but the way you behave and fulfill your responsibilities will have a profound and long-lasting effect on your children.
Discussing the consequences of their actions can help teens link impulsive thinking with facts. This helps the brain make these connections and wires the brain to make this link more often.
Remind your teens that they’re resilient and competent. Because they’re so focused in the moment, adolescents have trouble seeing they can play a part in changing bad situations. It can help to remind them of times in the past they thought would be devastating, but turned out for the best.
Become familiar with things that are important to your teens. It doesn’t mean you have to like hip-hop music, but showing an interest in the things they’re involved in shows them they’re important to you.
Ask teens if they want you to respond when they come to you with problems, or if they just want you to listen.
Parents tend to jump in with advice to try to fix their children’s problems or place blame. But this can make teens less likely to be open with their parents in the future. You want to make it emotionally safe and easy for them to come to you, so you can be part of their lives.
Signs of trouble
It’s normal for teens to be down or out of sorts for a couple of days. But if you see a significant mood or behavioral change that lasts more than 2 weeks, it could mean something else is going on, such as depression.
If you think your teen could be depressed, promptly seek professional treatment for your child. Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Your teen needs your guidance, even though they may think they don’t. Understanding their development can help you support them in becoming independent, responsible adults.
Dr. Mihalopoulos graduated medical school from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine, and received her MPH in Health Systems Management at Tulane, then moved to Rochester, NY to complete dual post-doctoral clinical and research fellowships in adolescent medicine and preve... Read More
Adolescent Medicine, Adolescent Menstrual Management, Adolescent Transgender Healthcare, Eating Disorders, Obesity and Heart Disease Risk Factors in Adolescence
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