Everyone experiences variations in their mood. Poor sleep, work or school obligations, food choices, friend or partner conflict, and impending illness can all impact whether you have a “good” or “bad” day.
Teens are no different when it comes to how events and the environment affect their emotions and moods. In fact, teens may seem to have reactions that are out of proportion at times. These variations in mood are normal. Your teen is simply learning how to manage and process their feelings and thoughts. Rapid mood swings are not necessarily the sign of an underlying problem.
We here at South Plains Rural Health Services offer mental health services for patients of all ages. Here’s what we want you to know about your teen’s rapid mood swings and when you should consider making an appointment for them to get support.
Why teens moods shift so quickly
Your teen may seem to have extreme reactions to events in their life. This is completely normal, especially given the rapid changes that are happening in their lives and their bodies. Reasons why your teen’s moods may be making such quick shifts include:
Biology does play a role in mental health. Hormones are chemical messengers that affect multiple body processes. As these chemicals shift rapidly during the adolescent years, it’s common for your child to become irritable, sad, frustrated, and intense.
Rapid developmental changes in brain activity also affect a teen’s mood. You may notice heightened reactions to events or problems that seem unsettling, but are really just a normal way your teen is adjusting to growing up.
Search for identity
Your child is growing up and trying to establish who they are in the world. This search for identity can show up as an attempt to separate from parents and, in the process, seem volatile and moody. Establishing independence can make your child seem distant or even angry.
They may also be exploring their gender identity and sexuality. This can be quite confusing and scary for some teens, thus affecting their moods.
School life, friends, romance, and extracurricular activities can all pile up and create a lot of stress in a teen’s life. They may be anxious about preparing for college, a big game, or a performance in the near future. If your child is overscheduled and trying to do too much, they can become tired and overwhelmed, which shows up in their moods.
A teen’s social life can have a notable impact on their moods. The need to be accepted by peers is real. Social media can also impact their self-image.
Pay attention to mood swings
Just because teen mood swings are normal, you should still pay attention. Sometimes, severe mood swings can signal a problem like depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or another mental health concern. Mood swings may also be a sign that your teen needs just a little more support from one or both of their parents.
Teenagers who are on the autism spectrum, for example, often experience more frequent and severe mood swings.
Teens with depression may suddenly lose interest in activities and things that once brought them joy. They may sleep more than usual, show appetite changes, and have dramatic shifts in their sleeping habits. Depression can make your child express feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Be especially concerned if these types of mood swings interfere with everyday activity, school performance, and friendships.
When you should seek help for teen mood swings
There isn’t always an easy answer as to when to get your teen help for a possible mental health concern. You know your child, and if you’re concerned that something is wrong, talk to them. You may find that simple interventions like trimming down their busy schedule or showing them support if they’re struggling in a class can help.
Do seek help if you notice your teen’s rapid mood swings last for weeks or months, especially if your child has clear periods of agitation followed by extremely low energy. If your child isolates themselves from friends or family or expresses intentions of self-harm, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Other signs of serious distress may be substance abuse or risky behaviors. Also note if your teen becomes paranoid or says they’re hearing voices.
Depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder and valid concerns to watch for in a teen with unusual mood swings.
Contact South Plains Rural Health for guidance if you’re concerned about your teen’s mental health. If your instinct as a parent is telling you something may be wrong, act on it. Call today, or use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment.