This is one of the more common questions that we hear at Creative Sky Psychology!!!
Have you or others noticed that your teen has seemed more moody and irritable than usual and are trying to figure out what is normal moodiness versus mental health concerns. It's a sad day when your child who used to stick by your side is now acting irritated and annoyed if you talk to them. Parents often say they feel as though they are "walking on eggshells". For some teens, it may be an indicator of something deeper. Although this may be true in some cases, moodiness is also a sign of the biological and hormonal changes in your teens brain. This, combined with academic and social demands can make teenagers seem frustrated, angry, irritable, moody, and annoyed.
Teenagers often experience a whirlwind of emotions as they navigate the challenging path of adolescence. It's not uncommon for them to exhibit mood swings and seemingly unpredictable behavior. To understand this complex time, we need to examine the teen brain on a deeper level
When scientists look at an MRI scan of the teenage brain, there are noticeable differences between the structures and composition of the images in comparison to child or adult brains. As soon as adolescents hit puberty, rapid changes begin to occur. When teens hit puberty, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for complex behaviors like decision making, self-expression, and social interactions, experiences a remarkable resurgence. After a period of relative stability in childhood, the connections between brain cells in this region undergo rapid development once again.
Furthermore, teenagers' brains undergo increased growth of white matter in specific regions such as the frontal lobe and the parietal lobe. These brain areas are involved in various cognitive processes, including reasoning, judgment, and impulse control. At the same time, different areas of the brain which are responsible for different impulses and behaviors develop at different rates. Areas of the brain that deal with emotional responses mature much earlier than the frontal lobes, which are responsible for judgment, self-regulation, and impulse control.
Because of these emotional fluctuations, teens might appear happy one moment, and then angry or sad the next. These feelings are much stronger and biologically based then those of adults and are difficult to navigate in an ever-changing world.
Hormone changes play a significant role in the moodiness of adolescents. During this time, levels of Estrogen and Testosterone (known as the sex hormones) begin to increase.
The influence of teenage hormones extends beyond physical and mental changes, impacting their behavior as well. Under the influence of peer pressure, coupled with fluctuating hormone levels and low self-esteem, teenagers may be more inclined to take risks and participate in behaviors that carry potential negative consequences for their future.
When will the moodiness settle down?
The duration of moodiness in teenagers varies from individual to individual. While there is no fixed timeline, it is important to recognize that moodiness is a normal part of adolescent development. As teens continue to grow and mature, their emotional stability and self-regulation skills are likely to improve.
Typically, mood swings tend to lessen as teenagers progress through their teenage years and into early adulthood. Factors such as hormonal balance, brain development, social and emotional experiences, and personal growth all contribute to this gradual transition.
However, it's important to remember that occasional moodiness may still persist even in adulthood, as it is a natural part of the human experience. It's crucial to maintain open lines of communication with your teen, provide support, and foster a nurturing environment to help them navigate their emotions effectively.
Is it just moodiness or does my teen need help?
Does your teen spend a lot of time in their room? Are you finding them less social? Do they sleep until noon? You may find it difficult to determine whether or not these are normal teen behaviors, or a sign of something deeper (such as depression or anxiety). As a parent, seeing these changing behaviors on a consistent basis may raise concerns.
The general belief is that the teenage years are filled with constant angst and unhappiness. While this may be the case for many adolescents, it's important to note that teens who do not suffer from depression have the ability to overcome periods of sadness. They can rebound and recover after a day or so, finding comfort in friendships, engaging in activities, or focusing on their studies. The feelings and mood swings eventually subside. For children with depression, symptoms often look like sudden, persistent changes in behavior and mood. It’s important for parents to look out for abnormal patterns in these areas:
Creative Sky Psychology supports the growth and wellness of children and teens in a supportive environment. If you are suspecting your child needs support a professional can guild you in the right direction.