2 Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence

Clinical Psychology


  1. Eric J. Mash PhD1,
  2. David A. Wolfe PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop208002

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Mash, E. J. and Wolfe, D. A. 2012. Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 8:I:2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Calgary, Department of Psychology, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  2. 2

    University of Toronto, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


We provide an overview of mental disorders of childhood and adolescence and key issues related to this topic. We first discuss the significance of mental health problems in youth and the role of multiple interacting influences in shaping adaptive and maladaptive patterns of behavior. This is followed by a general overview of childhood disorders and related conditions as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Fourth Edition–Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000), recognizing that revisions to this diagnostic system are underway for DSM-V. We next consider examples of three general types of problems in youth: externalizing disorders, internalizing disorders, and pervasive developmental disorders. We illustrate current issues and approaches to these disorders by focusing on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders as examples. In doing so we consider the main characteristics, epidemiology, developmental course, associated features, proposed causes, and an integrative developmental model for each of these disorders. We conclude with a discussion of current issues and future directions, including definitional issues, the role of context, comorbidity, prevalence, gender differences, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and culture, understanding causal processes, family influences, continuities and discontinuities, risk and resilience, and implications for treatment.


  • children's mental health;
  • child behavior disorders;
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD);
  • childhood anxiety disorders;
  • autism spectrum disorders