Mood Disorders in Children and Teens

A mood disorder is different from the occasional sadness or anger. Mood disorders affect a person's everyday emotional state. Because children are not always able to express how they feel, clinicians and researchers believe mood disorders in children and adolescents remain one of the most under-diagnosed mental health problems.

There are four basic forms of mood disorders: cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder), SAD (seasonal affective disorder), major depression, and mania. Adolescents who have a mood disorder are also at an increased rick for other mental illnesses and conditions, such as anxiety.

Symptoms of Mood Disorders in Adolescents

Adolescents may show different symptoms depending on depending on their age and the type of mood disorder present. Some symptoms of a mood disorder may include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Constant anger
  • Rebellious behaviors
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent physical ailments (headache, stomachache, or fatigue)
  • Hostility or aggression

While it is common to experience some of these symptoms on occasion, adolescents with mood disorders will experience these feelings more intensely and over a longer period of time, and feelings will start to interfere with things like relationships and school.

*These symptoms may resemble other conditions or problems. Always consult with a provider for a diagnosis.