Anger, attitude and anxiety – are these normal teen behaviours or something else? Read on to know all about mood disorders and learn how to identify them.
By Aarthi Arun
The teenage years are a crucial time in your child's life because that is when she is creating an identity for herself. Thanks to her newfound independence, your teen will try to test her limits. Add the growth spurts and raging hormones to that, you have the typical teen behaviour — teen tantrums, mood swings and a rebellious attitude. While it is normal for your teen to be moody and angry, this is the also the age when youngsters are vulnerable to mood disorders.
Mood disorder collectively refers to many conditions like Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder. It can also occur due to certain medical conditions and substance abuse. It can have a severe impact on your child's emotions and mental health even leading to depression, thus affecting the quality of her life. But, most of the times, mood disorders in children go unnoticed because we tend to assume that it is normal teen behaviour.
“Mood disorders can be chronic, pervasive and disabling and it is definitely on the rise in current times. Some known causes of mood disorders are chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, stressful life events or trauma and substance abuse. But, one of the more recent cause is the unhealthy, fast-paced lifestyle of teens. An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, unhealthy levels of competitiveness, lack of social interaction, overuse of monitors and the Internet are contributing factors,” says Dr Rani Susan Abraham, a psychologist from Bengaluru.*
Since adolescents are vulnerable to mood disorders, parents and caregivers have to be on high alert as these conditions are tougher to diagnose among teenagers than in adults.
“If a child is diagnosed with a mood disorder, it is important that the parents first reach a level of acceptance and calmness before they can help the child. This includes educating themselves about the disorder and seeking counselling support for themselves. Unconditional love, positive regard, compassion and generous support from the parents will go a long way to hasten the child on the road to recovery,” says Dr Rani.
Parents need to remember that they should be patient and helpful when a child shows symptoms of a mood disorder. It can be frustrating to deal with a moody child. But, parents have to keep in mind that there is a reason why children act moody and then, deal with the situation accordingly.
*With inputs from Dr Rani Susan Abraham, a psychologist from Bengaluru.
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