If you’re a parent of a teen, it’s a good bet that, at one time or another, you’ve wondered whether your child’s moodiness was “normal.”
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if teens are simply navigating the turmoil of growth and adolescence, or if it’s something more serious. Unfortunately, there’s no clear way for parents to know exactly what is going on with their child.
It’s typical for teens to experience a wide range of emotions, resulting from developmental changes to what’s happening in their environment. This is a time when biological shifts can have an enormous impact
on emotions and mood.
Hormonal changes are occurring on multiple levels as your teen matures. In addition, the adolescent brain continues to develop throughout the teen years, particularly the areas of the brain that control impulses and emotional self-regulation. All of this influences behavior.
Then there are the external influences that adolescents face.
Teens are under a vast amount of stress, which understandably affects their mood. In addition to academic demands and high-pressure extracurricular activities such as sports, their relationships with peers are becoming more complicated.
For some teens, romance and sexuality issues also begin to emerge.
The use of social media adds another layer to teen relationships, which can often be fraught already as adolescents begin to individuate and establish identities independent from their families.
All of these pressures can combine to negatively impact self-esteem. Their moodiness might be a result of feeling “not good enough” and fear that they will be unable to rise to the expectations of their parents, teachers and friends, let alone their own hopes and dreams.
It’s not surprising, given all these factors, that a teen’s mood might fluctuate frequently. That said, there are signs parents can watch for that might indicate a more serious mental health condition. Ask yourself these questions:
Does your teen avoid social situations or activities they used to enjoy? For teens, friends and social get-togethers are usually very important. Withdrawing from friends or skipping events they used to look forward to could be indicators of depression or social anxiety.
Are they experiencing difficulties with sleep—getting too much or too little? Researchers have found that teens feel more depressed and irritable when they don’t sleep enough. On the other hand, feeling tired and wanting to sleep all the time can be an…