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In a Bad Mood?

If you're a teenager and you've been moody lately, don't sweat. Try these tips to deal with the normal changes you're going through.

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How to Cope with Bad Moods

Parenting experts Margaret Sagarese and Charlene Giannetti come to the rescue with some practical, self-help tools for coping with teen bad moods. "Many teens are word-challenged when it comes to naming their moods. So we advise then to develop a 'Feelings Dictionary,' to help them understand their emotions."

Sagarese and Gianetti, both parents, suggest making a list of "Up" words and "Down" words. "Up" words include happy, accepted, peaceful, energetic, rested and excited. "Down" words include angry, sad, frustrated, afraid, insecure and embarrassed.

Along with understanding your feelings, the authors suggest walking away when you are in a nasty confrontation with someone else. "Not all situations need to result in a confrontation. The teen can simply walk away."

You should also try to express your feelings in words, Gianetti says. "Even if you can't verbalize your feelings to another person, you can write down what you're feeling on paper and get rid of the emotion by disposing of the paper."

Another way to cope with bad moods is to avoid people who bring you down, says Sagarese. "Whether it's a classmate or a relative, teens can minimize time spent with people who bring about feelings of sadness, guilt or anger," she says. "Once you can understand what you're truly feeling, you are better equipped to cope."

For girls who suffer mood swings with PMS, Sagarese suggests they chart their menstrual cycles on a calendar and pay particular attention to emotional highs and lows. "Jot down when you cry at the drop of a hat or shriek at your Mom when she asks about your homework. Note energy bursts and creative highs, too. A girl who learns her moods and cycles can make adjustments . . . and apologies."

When Should You See a Doctor?

So when should you check with a doctor about bad moods? Dr. Fieve advises that if you're so fatigued that you cannot get out of bed and feel "hopeless, helpless, and worthless" for two weeks, you or your parents should call a psychiatrist or psychologist and schedule an evaluation for you. If you don't know whom to call, your primary care doctor can make a referral for you.

Medication is sometimes necessary to balance moods. Psychotherapy can also help someone develop appropriate, workable coping skills to deal with everyday stressors. Often, doctors will recommend both medication and therapy to help a teen get well.

Perhaps the most important factor in gaining control over bad moods is to check your lifestyle habits -- eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, exercise daily, and de-stress in healthy ways that work for you. Try to think positive thoughts and surround yourself with friends who are optimistic and encouraging. Though you might have an occasional bad mood, chances are good that you will find your way out of it in time.

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Reviewed on June 01, 2007

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