Certain mental illnesses that have to do with emotions and moods are sometimes called Mood Disorders. These illnesses can include various experiences of mood, such as having a very low mood, such as with depression, or a very high mood, such as mania. There is also the experience of hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania but still considered a high mood that can be dangerous.
Mood disorders can include Dysthymia, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder, among others. The illness of Dysthymia is experiencing a low level of sadness for extended periods of time. Whereas depression is when a person experiences a consistent or regular periods of sadness often accompanied by other symptoms. And Bipolar Disorder is the oscillation between a low mood and high mood. These three illnesses are common mood disorders among both teens and adults.
Recent studies have found that as many as 15%-18% of teens have experienced a mood episode by age 18. Yet, interestingly, female teens are twice as likely to exhibit signs and symptoms of a mood disorder. But this isn’t always the case. The prevalence of mood disorders is around 3 to 5 percent for both boys and girls alike when they are in grade school. However, when children enter into adolescence, girls are more at risk for experiencing a mood disorder.
One reason for this is the way that females respond to emotional stimuli. Females tend to mature faster than males regarding their ability to regulate their emotions. They also tend to have a heightened sensitivity towards emotions, which might be a trigger for anxiety and depression.
If you’re a parent or caregiver of a teenage girl, you may want to know the signs and symptoms of a mood disorder. These can include:
Depression – sadness, tearfulness, diminished capacity to enjoy pleasurable activities, irritability and physical symptoms including increased or decreased appetite, sleep disturbances and fatigue
Mania or Hypomania – high feeling of irritability, decreased need of sleep, increased energy, behaving strangely in the classroom, impulsivity, being more talkative, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities (in severe cases, mania can cause psychosis and distorted thinking)
It’s important for parents and caregivers to look for these signs in their teens. And if they see these symptoms, get the right professional support. Here are suggestions for parents and caregivers who are concerned about their teens:
- Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as see something you’re concerned about.
- Research information online, especially at sites that are trusted mental health organizations, such as The National Alliance for Mental Illness.
- Don’t let stigma stand in your way. Mental illness is often judged by society, but don’t let that judgment get in the way of the right treatment for your teen.
- Encourage your teen to get the right amount of sleep, healthy foods, and exercise to stay physically and psychologically healthy.
- Talk to your teen about mental health treatment, such as therapy, medication, and support groups. Involve a mental health provider in the conversation if you want assistance.
Teens need the support of adults to manage the trials of adolescence. And this is especially true if a teen has a mental illness. If you see a mental health concern in your teen, contact a mental health provider today.