Deciphering Mental Illness From Moodiness and Impulsivity in Teens

There’s one question that many parents will face and that is how to determine whether their children have a mental illness given what they see their teens experiencing during adolescence. During this time in life, there are so many emotional, psychological, and physical changes seen in teens that some of those changes might be taken for symptoms of mental illness. The following article will explore some of the traits of teens that could be seen as a psychological disorder.


Moodiness, for instance, is a typical symptom of being an adolescent. Teens are full of emotional responses. Although this can often appear as moodiness, it points to the explosion of life and change that is happening inside an adolescent. Furthermore, a teen will often be incredibly impulsive. Typically, a teen wants to try new things, explore the world, and role-play. Although this also comes with impulsivity, a parent with a deeper understanding of a teen’s brain growth might allow for more investigation of the world while curbing a teen’s impulsivity.


However, these same characteristics of teens can be symptomatic of Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD. So how can you tell the difference? And if a teen is often moody, there may be a number of a reasons contributing to their moodiness, not only the fact that they are an adolescent. A teen might have depression, for example, especially if he or she does not have the skills for managing sadness. As a result, they might appear angry instead. Their moodiness might also be a symptom of an unrecognized medical concern or a teen’s inability to manage stress.


Along these lines, the symptoms of depression in teens may look like the typical behaviors of adolescence. Yet, if there are persistent changes in their functioning at school or home, self harm behavior, withdrawal, or shifts in energy or sleep, there may be cause for concern. If a teen is experiencing these symptoms, there’s a good chance that his or her psychological health will only get worse. For this reason it’s essential to have your teen assessed if you have concerns about his or her well being.


The following are strong indications to have your teen assessed by a mental health professional:


Mood Swings – Swings of mood from high (mania) to low (depression) is often an indicator of mental illness. However, occasional mood swings are typical for teens. As parents, you’ll have to differentiate a swing in moods that is out of character for your child. However, if you’re in doubt, schedule an appointment to have your teen assessed for a psychological illness.


Behavioral Changes – As a child moves into adolescence, he or she will behave differently. However, if there is behavior that is out of character, destructive, or debilitating, a mental illness may be present.


Dropping Grades – Teen depression, anxiety, ADHD, and ADD are illnesses with a symptom of lack of concentration. This can influence a teen’s ability to do well in school and establish healthy relationship with his or her peers. If you notice that your child is coming home with poor grades, it could be an indication you’re your teen needs mental health treatment.


Physical Symptoms – When a teen exhibits lack of energy, a change in sleeping and eating patterns, headaches, stomachaches, backaches, or a neglect of personal hygiene, it could be a sign that his or her mental health needs tending to. These are signs that a psychological illness may be present.


Self-Medicating – If a teen is exhibiting escapist types of behavior, such as drinking, using drugs, self-harm, disordered eating, or excessively engaging in sports or other activities, he or she may be self-medicating. This is a pattern that comes with an inability to cope or manage internal experiences, and these are signs of a mental illness.


Sometimes, it’s hard to tell illness from normal teen behavior. However, as a parent, using the above list combined with what you feel is out of character for your child might  provide an indication of whether or not your child needs treatment. If you’re in doubt, however, contact a mental health professional.