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Adolescent Psychiatry Specialist

Barbara J. Novak, MD

Psychiatrist located in Bethesda, MD

As a solo practitioner, Dr. Barbara Novak serves the residents of Washington, DC and Bethesda and nearby communities in Maryland and northern Virginia. The doctor specializes in helping her younger patients deal with the many problems adolescents face on a regular basis. Dr. Novak's office is located in Bethesda and is conveniently close to Rockville, Travilah, Potomac, Cabin John, McLean, Tysons, Pimmit Hills, Woodland Acres, Falls Church, Arlington, Washington, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Kensington, and Garrett Park.

Adolescent Psychiatry Q & A

What are Common Problems Faced by Middle and High School Students?

Middle and high school students face a variety of problems. Bullying is one of the most commonly reported adolescent issues in the United States, and peer pressures to conform to a particular “norm” can be very strong. Students of this age are going through many changes both in their physical makeup and in the way they perceive the world around them. All these changes tend to be destabilizing. At times school can seem overwhelming, especially when having to adapt to expectations of stricter class schedules, more homework, and (often competing) demands of friends and family. Psychiatric counseling can provide support while working on removing any obstacles to building and maintaining self-esteem and confidence. Greater awareness of oneself allows for the development of a stronger sense of where one is headed.

Why is Transitioning From Adolescence to Young Adulthood so Stressful?

Transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood can be extremely stressful. During adolescence, kids are just starting to test their independence while still having their parents to fall back on. As the transition continues, they must learn to rely more on their own resources and less on their parents. For example, the transition to a college situation where the student is living away from home can become problematic if the child feels too insecure without the structure and nurture her parents provide. Being unsure of one's self at this stage can lead to patterns of self-sabotage. If a student is experiencing difficulties in moving from one phase to another, meeting with a psychiatrist may help him regain his self-confidence and work through self-worth issues so that self-sabotage does not become a major problem.

How can Parents Make the Transition Easier?

Parents are the first support system a child has. Of course, they know their children better than anyone else. When a child begins to transition from one phase to another, the parents are often the first ones to notice signs of difficulty. Taking the time to talk to the child can help a great deal, but in certain situations, professional advice may be needed. Seeking professional help at these times of difficulty can provide the student with someone outside of the family in whom to confide. Particularly in adolescence as the child is trying to assert independence from the parents while still needing them for support, consultation with an objective psychiatrist can be especially beneficial.