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Teen Health

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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.


Blame Your Bad Mood on Adolescence

In a study published in March 2007 in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that responses to stressful events are exaggerated during the teenage years. This exaggeration occurs because of a hormone response (called THP). In adults, THP reduces anxiety, helping the adult calm down after a stressful event. But in teenagers, the hormone actually increases anxiety. Anxiety and panic disorder, which are twice as likely in girls, first appear at adolescence. Suicide risk increases during the teenage years, too, as does the frequency of major depression.

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."

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