teen mood disorders

The Difference Between Moodiness and Mood Disorders in Teenagers

February 8, 2018

All teens are moody. They are constantly going through shifting hormonal changes as they gradually transform from adolescents to young adults, so it’s normal for them to experience fluctuating emotions. However, it’s important to know the difference between simple mood swings and mood disorders in your teen. Although everyone is prone to normal bouts of sadness, mood disorders in teenagers can be identified with a few noticeable symptoms for which to look out. These are the red flags that you need to pay attention to as a parent.

Loss of Interest

Although it’s completely normal for teens to develop sudden interests in certain activities or things and then lose interest in them after some time, you should concentrate on any huge changes. For example, if your child has always felt a passion for a certain sport in which they were extremely active and they suddenly lose interest, this should be considered a sign that something is wrong. In normal instances, a teen will lose interest in one activity and then replace it with something else. If your child doesn’t replace a once-loved activity with a different one, this should be considered a warning sign.

Drastic Changes in Sleep

On average, teens can get away with less sleep than the average adult. However, when there is a situation of a mood disorder, you will notice that your teen is experiencing a drastic change in their sleep patterns. Things to look out for are a lack of sleep and always being overly tired or the exact opposite and your teen getting excessive amounts of sleep.

Lack of Concentration

Another noticeable change in teens with mood disorders is that their level of concentration has greatly decreased. However, it can go beyond a student once getting As and Bs in school to suddenly getting Cs and Ds. Even more mundane activities, such as your teen’s chores around the house, can suddenly change significantly. For instance, if your child is normally very quick to do the laundry or wash the dishes and suddenly neglects doing these tasks for several days at a time, it might not just be that they are too busy.

Eating and Significant Weight Changes

Everyone is different when it comes to eating habits, including those with mood disorders. Some teens may overeat and put on weight, while others may eat too little and lose a significant amount of pounds. If you notice either of these changes in your teen when they have not decided to gain or lose weight for an athletic event or another particular reason, it should be a concern.

What are Mood Disorders?

It’s important to know what mood disorders are so that you can identify whether your teen exhibits key symptoms. Mood disorders fall under the category of mental health conditions that include all kinds of depression and bipolar disease. Sometimes, these conditions are known as “affective disorders.”

It is more difficult for children and adolescents to be diagnosed with these illnesses, but mental health professionals have been understanding them more and more. Unfortunately, teens who have mood disorders are also more likely to develop another mental condition, usually anxiety disorder, disruptive behavior or substance abuse disorder.

What Causes Mood Disorders in Teens?

The exact cause of mood disorders is generally not well-known. However, it’s believed that chemicals in the brain, specifically, neurotransmitters, play some factor as they regulate the brain chemistry that affects mood. Mood disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance, although other factors, such as one’s environment and unexpected stressful events, may play a part in mood disorders in teenagers.

It is also believed that the condition is inherited by genetics. In other words, if a parent has a mood disorder, the child may also develop it. In addition, females are 70 percent more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than males.

How are Mood Disorders Diagnosed?

It’s important to acknowledge that mood disorders in teens are not simply something that they can get over. It is a very real medical condition that requires treatment. Usually, a child psychiatrist or other mental health professional can diagnose a teenager with mood disorder after a full, comprehensive evaluation. There are also treatment options available and the specific kind of treatment your teen receives depends on a variety of factors, including their age, overall health, medical history, type of mood disorder and tolerance for various medications.

If your teen suffers from a mood disorder, they need help in the form of treatment that has been proven to be effective. Consider bringing your child to Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center. They will receive the right kind of treatment to ease their symptoms and help them to cope in a caring environment with others going through the same thing.

Sources: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=overview-of-mood-disorders-in-children-and-adolescents-90-P01634