Teenagers are known for going from talking a mile a minute to slamming their bedroom doors and taking vows of silence the next. It can be just as confusing for your child as it feels to be on the receiving end of their sudden changes in mood and attitudes. Some degree of mood swings in teenagers in normal, as they experience a sudden influx of hormones and are struggling to navigate the bridge between childhood and the adult world, but teenage mood swings can be a warning sign for bigger issues. 

Why Are Teens so Moody?

There are multiple reasons teens are prone to moodiness and none of them occur in isolation. 

  • Puberty involves a lot of biological changes, both physically and neurologically. Being unfamiliar with these intense bursts of hormones can feel overwhelming. Hormone imbalances can lead to 
  • Lack of emotional awareness. A common theme in teens is being able to admit their emotions are all over the place, but not really being able to explain what they’re feeling or where it’s coming from. Teen’s emotional brains develop at a more rapid pace than parts of their brain responsible for decision making. 
  • Changing social norms. Middle school is hard. High school is hard. Teens place a higher value on peer acceptance and feel pressure to conform to certain standards. In childhood, relationships aren’t based around social rules, at least not on a conscious level. However, as teens get older, they are more likely to struggle with trying to fit in, which can be an impossible task when trying to fit a certain mold.
  • Higher levels of stress. Adolescence is a period of a series of major life changes, often all at once. It is not surprising that teens are just as stressed out as adults, if not more. According to a recent survey, over a third of teens report that their stress levels have a significant impact on feelings of depression and exhaustion. 
  • Sleep deprivation. Teens need more sleep than any other age group and between school, extracurriculars, and socializing, they also get less sleep than other age groups. While they may not be pulling all-nighters all the time, over time, getting less sleep than their bodies need can lead to exhaustion and moodiness.

When to Reach out for Support

While most teens go through “phases” where their mood changes frequently, variability between extreme emotions usually decreases over time. Adults still experience the full range of emotions, but not quite as rapidly and they report having a greater sense of control over their emotions. For some people, this emotional roller coaster isn’t limited to adolescence. It is difficult to diagnose mood disorders, like bipolar, in adolescence because there are so many different factors that affect their mood swings. The biggest indicator that their mood swings may be a warning sign for something greater depends on how it impacts their daily functioning. 

Finding appropriate help depends on possible reasons for mood swings. In addition to bipolar disorder, they are also common in teens struggling with depression, ADHD, and post-traumatic stress.

Mood swings are associated with:

  • Difficulty managing intense emotions, like anger or hopelessness
  • Increased impulsivity and risky behaviors
  • More interpersonal conflict
  • Longer-lasting periods of intense emotions, such as days or weeks
  • Unstable sense of self

Solstice Can Help

Solstice RTC is a residential treatment program for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with mental health issues, such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship struggles. We are dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions. We can help your family today!

For more information about mood swings in teens, call 866-278-3345.