Teenagers and Their Moods

sad teen girl I’ve been doing a little reading about teenagers and mood swings because lately, it seems that I have a moody teenager in the house. (I should talk – I’m perimenopausal and fairly moody myself. In fact, I read somewhere that menopause is like puberty in reverse. So my son and I are both “swinging,” but in opposite directions.)

Anyway, when he first wakes up in the morning, and often at night before he goes to bed, my 15-year-old seems like his old self: cheerful, conversational, humorous. We’ll have a really nice chat during one of these “up” moods – for example, we’ll reminisce about fun things we did together when he was younger – and I’ll have a warm feeling inside for a long time afterwards.

Let’s say (hypothetically speaking, of course) that the above-described conversation takes place on a Saturday morning. Just a few hours later, I knock on my son’s door to let him know that a boy he used to hang with is on the phone; whereupon my darling just about bites my head off for answering the phone. You see, he doesn’t want to talk to this particular kid. (Don’t ask me why and don’t bother asking my son why either; it’s a waste of time because the usual answer is “I just don’t.”)

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t recognize the phone number and didn’t know who was calling before I picked it up. The boy-becoming-a-man is still irritated with me.

And as much as you remind yourself that teenagers are supposed to be moody, it still stings a bit, doesn’t it? I guess you have to grow a thicker skin to help get you through their adolescence.

So as I was saying, I was doing some reading about teenagers and mood swings. I did find all the usual articles about how teens’ fluctuating hormones, developing brains and other physical and emotional changes can cause frequent changes in mood.

What’s worth noting, however, is that I also learned that teenagers’ moodiness should not be dismissed out of hand as being “normal.” Teenagers do suffer from things like depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); mood swings can be symptoms of all of these.

If your teenager seems out of sorts or down in the dumps, doctors suggest that whether to chalk it up to “normal” moodiness or not depends on how long that low feeling lasts. If it’s only a matter of hours or days, it’s probably normal. If it extends for weeks or months, it’s probably not.

As parents, it’s up to us to pay close attention to our teenagers’ behaviors. That way, if we observe behavior that’s different from what’s normal for them, we’ll notice the change and can get them to a doctor sooner rather than later.

Because if it turns out that your teenage son or daughter – or mine – does need medication or therapy for a psychiatric disorder, then the sooner we get them help, the sooner they will be themselves again.