Have you ever been in a really bad mood? Perhaps you gave it some "drama" by slamming your door. Or maybe you were so angry you slugged the wall with your fist, just to emphasize that you were mad and in control of your life.
We've all been there. We've all felt cranky, irritable, and angry, sometimes for no real reason. Bad moods are a part of life. And they are especially common in adolescence and the teen years, as hormone levels ebb and flow.
In the six months after her parents' divorce, 13-year-old Caroline (not her real name) gained more than 20 pounds. Feeling sad and alone, she consoled herself with food -- and lots of it. Day after day, she was binge eating.
"I remember the night my dad left, I went into the kitchen and devoured a dozen glazed doughnuts and a quart of milk," Caroline said. "Still feeling hungry (but really sad), I took a bag of chips up to my room and ate them in the dark while sitting on my bed, crying."
Yet, persistent bad moods aren't healthy -- for you or those around you. And, sometimes, once you get used to being in a bad mood, the habit is difficult to break.
What Causes My Bad Moods?
For many teens, dealing with school pressure and daily changes cause bad moods. As one girl said: "My parents expect me to get super grades. They want me to do well in sports. And I want to look good and be popular. It's hard to do all of that every day."
Yes, it is hard to be perfect -- because humans are not perfect! Most teens want to be independent while still feeling a certain sense of dependence on their family. They want to be treated like adults, but sometimes they still feel like little kids. Teens are in a transition between childhood and adulthood, and all the changes and new responsibilities are often overwhelming. Sure, this is an exciting time, but it can also be lonely and frightening.
Another cause of the mood swings that teens experience is puberty. Not only do the hormones that kick in at puberty cause incredible physical changes, they also can make your mood swing -- whether you want it to or not! These mood swings can be confusing and frightening, both to the teen and to everyone else around.
Nearly everyone goes through mood swings during the teen years. But it's important to understand whether a bad mood is temporary irritability or full-blown depression.
When Is It Not Just a Bad Mood?
If you have long periods of irritability or moodiness, feelings of despair, or excessive feelings of boredom, check with your doctor. Sometimes, these are signs of a more serious mood disorder called depression.
Depression is much more than just feeling sad or low. It can lead to excessive anger, irritation, apathy -- even suicide. So get help. Talk to a trained therapist or counselor or your primary health care provider, who can help you with your feelings and get you back on the road to enjoying your life. If you are having suicidal thoughts get in touch with someone close to you or call the national suicide prevention hotline at (800) 273-TALK for help.