Causes of Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers & its Symptoms

Most parents find it an extremely daunting task to determine their teenager’s behavior especially when the latter deals with quick developmental changes which result in irrational mood swings, emotional confusion and weird behavior. The sudden changes of emotions and thoughts are known as mood swings and in such cases a child may feel happy at one point but becomes depressed and sad all of a sudden. It is a known fact that the teenage years are a time of extreme stress and turmoil for most teenagers and with several factors contributing to such mood swings, parents can truly have a difficult time managing their kids and maintaining a healthy relationship with them.

Understanding the main causes of irrational mood swings in teenagers is the key to treating this problem and dealing with it effectively. There are several external factors which combine with the biological ones giving rise to irrational mood swings in teenagers.

Parents need to understand their child’s need and intervene where necessary to be able to help them undergo the changes they are either experiencing or about to experience without causing any damage. Also, parents must try to stay as calm and supportive as possible and try to empathize with their teenagers instead of fighting them during one of the most difficult phases of their life.

Causes of Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers

Causes of Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers

The major causes which can lead to irrational mood swings in teenagers are:

Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers Caused Due to Changes in Hormones

Being a significant time of change in every teen’s life, puberty starts in American girls at around 10 – 14 years of age while in American boys it is a little delayed at 12 – 16 years. The beginning of puberty is where young individuals start experiencing hormonal changes with the most significant change being in the sex hormones which increase rapidly in both boys and girls. These hormonal changes are one of the main causes of irrational mood swings in teenagers and also give way to emotional turmoil where the teenager feels out of control and behaves irrationally especially with his parents and other family members.

The teen feels confused and uncomfortable as the involuntary changes in the body such as development of sexual organs and increase in height or weight start happening all at the same time. They also have to deal with the pressure of looking unique and unlike their peers which adds to their discomfort immensely. It is parental understanding and intervention which can help a teenager experiencing irrational mood swings to undergo this huge transition smoothly. Parents must act as an outlet for support where they constantly try to understand the teenager’s feelings and emotions and help him deal with it.

Experimenting With Drugs, Substance Abuse and Alcohol Can Cause Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers

Many teenagers fall prey to bad company and start experimenting with drugs or get involved in substance abuse of some kind like cocaine and marijuana. A survey was conducted in the year 2014 where it was revealed that more than 60 percent of teenagers who experienced irrational mood swings were into drug abuse with their peers and were either using it on a regular basis or were consuming high doses of drugs at regular intervals.

Another substance which is the cause of irrational mood swings in teenagers is alcohol. Teenagers who indulge in such substance abuse run the risk of getting addicted to them which in turn can have a negative impact on the behavior, mood and health. It is a good idea for parents to monitor the kind of company their teenage child keeps, talk to their children about the ill-effects of substance abuse and offer them help if they find they their teenage child is into such abuse.

Mental Health Disorder

If a teenager is suffering from extensive and irrational mood swings and is unable to overcome it despite several efforts, chances are that he is suffering from a mental health disorder be it bipolar disorder or depression. When a teenager suffers from bipolar disorder, he experiences extreme mood swings which are beyond his control. Either the teen feels intensely happy, behaves in a silly manner or finds it difficult to stay focused or he might become extremely sad, feel lethargic and also have thoughts about committing suicide.

When the cause of irrational mood swings is depression then the teenager might suffer from a very bad temper and would prefer staying alone all the time. He will not show interest or enthusiasm in any kind of activity. It is mandatory that parents seek professional help and get their teenager’s condition evaluated and treated at the earliest to prevent the disorder from ruining the child’s life.

Extreme Academic Pressure

This is one of the common causes of irrational mood swings in teenagers. In today’s competitive world, there is extensive pressure on teenagers to excel in their academics and the constant comparison with peers forces them to give in more than their best to studies and athletic performances. This results in depression, sadness, irritation and irrational mood swings which the teenager is just unable to control. Parents must avoid comparing their children with others and support them in whatever you do. The need to excel in everything is one of the biggest pressures that teenagers feel especially from their parents.

Lack of Sleep and Rest Can Cause Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers

Though a less common cause of irrational mood swings, lack of proper sleep and rest on a daily basis can also give rise to mood swings. Teenagers are individuals who are dealing with extreme stress and peer pressure in both their personal and academic life. They have to continue to excel in studies and also keep up with their peers in everything they do. Amongst all this stress, it is quite important that a teenager gets enough sleep and rest every day without fail. The teenager should get sound sleep for at least 8 to 9 hours every night and take out 1 hour during the day to rest and relax.

Common Symptoms to Identify Irrational Mood Swings in Teenagers

Many a time’s parents are worried about the sudden changes in their teenage child’s behavior and wonder what the problem is. Many parents are unable to analyze the problem or understand the symptoms of irrational mood swings in teenagers. Teenagers too fail to recognize the mood swings and blame everyone and anyone around them for their irritated feeling and mood changes. Being well informed about the common symptoms of such mood swings helps both parents and the teenagers themselves to deal with the problem effectively and treat it accordingly. The symptoms are:

  • Sudden anxiety and stress
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Refusing to comply to set rules can be a symptoms of irrational mood swings in teenager
  • Lack of judgment
  • Forgetfulness and feeling of confusion
  • Low tolerance for frustration is also another symptoms of irrational mood swings in teenagers
  • Sudden feeling of sadness
  • Pulls hair or wrings hands when agitated and angry
  • Delayed response to questions, mostly gives one-word answers
  • Movement is spontaneous
  • Low concentration and attention level
  • Involved in substance abuse be it drugs or alcohol
  • Suicidal tendency
  • Have unrealistic thoughts of knowledge and power
  • Spends too much time alone.

All parents should understand that irrational mood swings, irritated behavior and the difference in opinion that their teenage children experience is a very normal phase in their life and with the right support and help, any teenager can overcome it easily. However, if the problem is extreme and no amount of support or help is improving the child’s condition then it is imperative to seek professional advice and help to get the child treated.

Knowing and evaluating the causes and symptoms of irrational mood swings in teenagers can help parents to deal with the problem and help their child overcome the issue. With time, as teenagers turn into young adults, mood swings and behavioral problem gradually get sorted out and the individual takes control of his life as he is now able to distinguish between right and wrong.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 6, 2018

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