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mood disorders in teens - red mountain colorado

Moody Teen or Mood Disorder: How to Spot the Difference

With all of the changes that an adolescent’s body goes through, it’s common for teens to experience mood swings from time to time. However, sometimes what appears as typical teenage moodiness can actually be warning signs of a developing mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. Understanding and recognizing the warning signs of emerging mood disorders can aid in early detection and treatment.

How to identify whether your teen is having normal mood changes or is suffering from a mood disorder

All teens experiencing normal development can go through periods of detaching from their parents, dramatic reactions to events, and roller coaster emotions. However, there are three areas to consider when trying to determine if your teen’s moodiness is actually a developing mood disorder: Level of daily life disruption, length of time, and areas of life affected.

One factor to examine is the level at which these negative thoughts and feelings are affecting your teen’s ability to function in daily life. If your teen is experiencing mild disruption, meaning that these negative thoughts and feelings drift in and out but do not have an overall impact on their ability to function throughout the day, this is probably the result of a normal reaction to teenage stress. If negative thoughts and feelings are creating moderate disruption in your teen’s ability to function in several areas such as school, family, and social interactions, this could be an early warning sign of a mood disorder. Lastly, if your teen is experiencing severe disruption, meaning they struggle to get out of bed or participate in any activities, this is a sign that she needs immediate attention.

Another metric you can use to distinguish between teen moodiness and a mood disorder is the length of time your teen is displaying symptoms. Teens experience several stressors in their life and if negative emotional responses can be attributed to specific events and only last a few days, this reaction is probably normal. If these negative emotions last beyond a couple of weeks, it could be a sign of a developing mood disorder.

It’s also important to look at the entire picture of your teen’s life rather than just one or two areas. If a bad mood is related to only a section of your teen’s life such as family, school, social life, etc. it is probably related to a specific event that will only affect them for a brief period of time. If your teen is struggling to function in all areas of life, it could be indicative of a burgeoning mood disorder.

In addition to these three areas to consider, there are also some other common symptoms you can look out for if you suspect your teen’s moodiness is atypical:

– Feelings of despair, helplessness, or guilt
– Low self-esteem
– Loss of interest in normal activities or activities once enjoyed
– Sleep problems such as insomnia
– Changes in appetite or weight
– Frequent physical complaints
– Running away or making threats of running away from home

If your teen is experiencing intense, persistent, and all-encompassing negative thoughts and feelings, Red Mountain Colorado could provide your child the care he needs.

Red Mountain Colorado Can Help

Red Mountain Colorado is a leading residential treatment center for teens aged 14-17 that is uniquely designed to help struggling adolescents work through mental health issues like depression, trauma, and anxiety, and other mood disorders.

We use evidence-based and holistic therapies to help your teen break negative thought and behavior patterns and develop greater self-awareness, self-confidence, and positive decision-making. For more information please call (970) 316-7683.