Do you ever find yourself getting really irritable for almost no reason? Or suddenly feeling down without knowing why? Going from sadness to anger to joy in a matter of minutes can make many teens feel as though they're losing their grip. But why is the feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster so common among teens?
Dealing with constant change and pressure is part of the answer. Maybe you're starting a new school and not able to see old friends as much. Getting good grades or wanting to be better in sports or other activities can be a concern for many teens. It might feel as though there just isn't enough time to do everything.
Being a teen means struggling with identity and self-image. Being accepted by friends feels extremely important. Teens also may notice, for the first time, a sense of distance from parents and family. You may feel you want to be on your own and make your own decisions, but it can also seem overwhelming and even a bit lonely at times.
As fun and exciting as this time is, it also can be a time of confusion and conflict. It can take a while for teens — and their families — to feel comfortable with the transition between childhood and adulthood.
Another important cause for mood swings is biology. When puberty begins, the body starts producing sex hormones. These hormones — estrogen and progesterone in girls and testosterone in guys — cause physical changes in the body. But in some people, they also seem to cause emotional changes — the ups and downs that sometimes feel out of control.
Understanding that almost everyone goes through mood swings during their teen years might make them easier to handle.
Feeling irritable or short-tempered can be signs of depression. So can feelings of boredom or hopelessness.
Many people think of depression as feeling sad, but depression can also bring feelings of moodiness, impatience, anger, or even just not caring. When depression gets in the way of enjoying life or dealing with others, that's a sign you need to do something about it, like talking to a counselor or therapist who can help you deal with it. Also, if you ever feel like hurting yourself, that's more than just a bad mood and you need to tell someone.
Here are some things you can do that might make those bad moods a bit easier to handle:
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2012
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