Disorders that Affect Thoughts and Moods of Teens

There are a variety of psychological disorders that affect teens differently. In fact, the way that certain illnesses affect children, adolescents, and adults provide the structure by which psychological illnesses are categorized in the mental health field.


For instance, mental illnesses that have to do with emotions are categorized under mood disorders, and disorders that affect thinking are considered to be thought disorders.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses is the reference text used by clinicians to diagnose their clients. Published by the American Psychological Association, this manual provides a common language and standard criteria clinicians can then use to categorize, diagnose, and treat their clients.


In the most recent edition of the DSM, published in May 2013, there are over 300 disorders listed, a number that has increased with each revision. As mentioned above, the way that these illnesses are categorized depends on their symptoms and how the illness reveals itself in thought, mood, and behavior of the inflicted individual. The DSM 5 has the following categorizations:


  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders
  • Bipolar and Related Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorders,
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders
  • Sexual Dysfunctions
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders
  • Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders
  • Neurocognitive Disorders
  • Paraphilic Disorders
  • Personality Disorders


Of the categories above, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Depressive Disorders are illnesses that affect a teen’s mood.  However, when severe, these disorders can also affect thinking. Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders, and Schizophrenia spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders are disorders that affect thoughts and cognition of adolescents.


Of the mood disorders, the following are the most common for teens.


Major Depressive Disorder: This disorder is considered to be a medical illness that includes symptoms of persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, occupational and educational impairment, along with eventual emotional and physical problems. Major Depressive Disorder usually requires long-term treatment, including psychotherapy and medication.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. The excessive anxiety interferes with the ability to function and usually consists of extreme anxiety for everyday matters.


Of thought disorders, the following are the most common for teens.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness experienced by someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety as a result. These symptoms may include flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts. An individual might also exhibit symptoms of avoidance, such as staying away from certain places to avoid reliving the traumatic experience or forgetting the experience entirely.


Schizophrenia: Those with this illness experience delusions and hallucinations, which cause changes in behavior. These symptoms last longer than six months and usually with a decline in work, school, and social functioning.


Delusional Disorder: Those with this illness have a delusion (a false, fixed belief) involving real-life situations that could be true, such as being followed, being conspired against, or having a disease. These delusions persist for at least one month.


The lists above don’t encompass the full range of teen thought and mood disorders. However, it provides examples of disorders that affect mood and thoughts of adolescents.  Having these categorizations provide clinicians with a better understanding of how various psychological illnesses affect teens, and as a result, provide them with the means to treat their clients effectively.