People blame mood swings for many things. As women enter their teen years or post-menopausal years, mood swings are a part of everyday life. Similarly, teen and adolescent males will experience mood swings for a variety of social and or medical reasons. In addition to mood swings that come as a part of natural growth, certain mental health and physical health conditions can also promote mood swings, as can addiction and substance use disorders. But what are mood swings? And what are some tools your teen can use to cope with mood swings when they occur?
What is Mood Regulation?
A simple definition for mood swing is an extreme or sudden change in one’s emotional state. Your teen may quickly switch from being happy, joyful, and upbeat to irritable, angry, or sad during a mood swing. Mood regulation can happen in the blink of an eye, and sometimes, mood changes occur for no apparent or notable reason.
Mental Health and Mood Swings
Several mental health conditions affecting either gender can lead to mood swings. The most commonly associated illnesses include bipolar disorders, depressive disorders, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, and substance use disorders.
When someone struggles with bipolar disorder, they experience periods of overwhelming emotional lows (depression) and extreme emotional highs (mania). Depending on their specific bipolar diagnosis, these alterations in mood may occur several times each year.
Depressive disorder or major depressive disorder affects millions of Americans of all ages. Depressive disorders affect relationships, mood, and frequently lead to powerful feelings of sadness. People with depression experience several alterations in mood ranging from low mood to periods of happiness.
Borderline personality disorder
Teens with borderline personality disorder struggle with self-image and have difficulty managing their behaviors. Additionally, they will also experience intense mood swings that can lead to two notable challenges with their relationships. Some studies suggest nearly 6% of Americans will experience borderline personality disorder at some point in their lives.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
Youth and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD experience difficulties managing emotions. Often, this can lead to mood swings. Other symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, problems focusing, and impulsivity can also lead to challenges regulating mood.
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder or DMDD is a mental health condition that occurs during childhood. DMDD causes intense mood changes, including irritability, temper outburst (temper tantrums), and anger. To receive a diagnosis of DMDD, your adolescent or teen must experience these symptoms for 12 months or more.
Substances use disorders
Struggles with drug or alcohol abuse can lead to mood swings for several reasons. Frequent use of drugs or alcohol can lead to changes in how the brain works. If your teen struggles with addiction and is not actively using, they may experience intense and powerful mood swings. Additionally, the detox and withdrawal can lead to new or worsening struggles with mental health and mood.
Coping Strategies for Mood Swings
There may be some stressors your teen cannot avoid that contribute to mood swings. However, there are several coping skills your teen can use to manage mood-related challenges.
Practice stress management
Stress is a pivotal contributor to mood swings regardless of any underlying mental health condition. Learning healthy and safe coping skills is a vital step in helping manage the difficulties that can lead to teen mood changes. Suppose your teen has a mental health diagnosis (or wants to seek help to manage symptoms). In that case, they can work with a member of our treatment team to learn about coping skills such as yoga, meditation, journaling, and other self-care techniques that can reduce the effects of daily stress.
Maintain a regular schedule
Routine is essential for many reasons, including helping to control mood swings. Many mental health conditions do not lend themselves well to change. When teens with bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or another mental health struggle deal with frequent change or alterations to their routine, it can lead to stressors and mood swings. Creating and sticking to a schedule of sleep, meals, and other activities is an excellent place to start.
Get enough sleep
Exhaustion and even mild fatigue can trigger mood swings in some. For those with bipolar disorder, fatigue can lead to mania. For teens, it is essential to unwind before bed. Unfortunately, today’s growing dependence on technology means many teens are in front of a screen scrolling through Facebook, playing video games, or chatting online with friends until the moments before they go to bed. This habit makes it difficult for the brain to shut down and for your teen to get a healthy night’s sleep. Some experts recommend turning off technology 30 minutes before bed. If your teen finds they need a distraction, consider soothing music, a warm bath, or a noise machine before bed.
Start a regular exercise routine
Several research studies suggest following a regular exercise routine can help those who struggle with mood swings and other mental health symptoms regulate their mood. Remember, it is not necessary to exercise aggressively or for many hours at a time. Often a walk, hike, or another excuse to get outside in the fresh air is beneficial.
Avoid caffeine and self-medication
Although energy drinks, coffee, and cappuccino are popular among teens, they do not benefit one’s mental health. Caffeine is a stimulant drug. Consuming caffeine at the wrong time of day can hinder adequate sleep and lead to worsening manic episodes and other mood changes. Additionally, using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate symptoms or for any other reason may trigger mood changes or worsening mental health challenges.
Consider coping skills like journaling, meditation, yoga, or other stress-relieving skills. Any of these can help your teen relax and focus their mind. Journaling can be particularly helpful as it can help your teen track patterns in their mood. By keeping track of events, stressors, sleeping habits, diet, etc., your teen can develop a better understanding of what situations or circumstances act as mood triggers. This can help them, and your family better prepare for situations that may increase their vulnerability to mood swings.
Get Help When Needed
Because mood swings are often associated with a mental health struggle, seeking help to safely manage symptoms is the first step on a journey to successful recovery. For most mental health needs, early intervention is key to successful treatment. The sooner you seek treatment for your teen at a renowned treatment facility like Beachside, the higher their chances for learning to manage their symptoms effectively. Many people find a successful treatment plan for many mental health conditions involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and psychoeducation.
Medication is a vital component in your teen’s individual treatment plan as it can help stabilize the mood changes your teen is experiencing. Some common categories of medications that may be prescribed by your teen’s medical or mental health professional here at Beachside include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. It may take several tries before the medication (or combination of) that works best is found.
Psychotherapy is also commonly called talk therapy. This form of treatment can provide a valuable opportunity for your teen to learn and practice effective strategies for coping with and managing their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to help your teen address negative thinking patterns and behaviors that follow their thoughts. Also, family therapy can help your teen and family members learn to communicate calmly and effectively. Communication helps to reduce the overall stress levels within the family dynamic. Psychotherapy also helps to provide psychoeducation around problem-solving, developing essential self-care habits, and building individual resilience.
Inpatient or residential treatment may be a better course for teens experiencing volatile moods or experiencing psychotic or suicidal thoughts and behaviors. At a residential treatment center like Beachside, we offer individualized inpatient treatment programs designed around your teen’s mental health needs. The first goal of a mental health treatment program is to stabilize mood and then move forward with other treatment program elements, including therapy, nutrition, and additional essential education. Our trained team consists of medical providers, skilled counselors, nutritionists, and pharmacy professionals who will work together to help your teen achieve lasting recovery.
If your teen is struggling with a mental health challenge that causes mood swings, don’t wait to seek help and learn more about their symptoms and how to help the recovery. Many mental health conditions can cause or worsen pre-existing mental health challenges. Seeking treatment early can provide more precise insight into your teen’s mental health needs while offering a direction for treatment. Most mental health conditions benefit greatly from early intervention and early comprehensive therapy.
Mental health challenges are not uncommon in youth and teens. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the most common mental health conditions diagnosed in teens are attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (9.8%), anxiety (9.4%), and behavioral disorders (8.9%). As many as 9% of teens had an alcohol or drug use disorder. Despite their common occurrence, each of these conditions can improve with treatment.
The earlier intervention is sought, the more likely your adolescent or teen will learn the vital coping skills necessary to manage their symptoms and therefore manage their emotional health throughout their lives. Early treatment and early intervention at our Los Angeles are teen treatment center can help your teen learn vital life skills for managing their mood swings and other associated mental health symptoms. Contact our admissions team today if you would like to learn more about Beachside and how we can help your teen and your family.