Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Am I Moody, or Do I Have a Mood Disorder?

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT
Meet The Team >

The teenage years are filled with ups and downs. Some days you feel great, while others lead to nothing but drama, drama, drama. You feel as if you’re on a hormonal roller coaster.

That roller coaster makes it almost impossible for you to tell the difference between typical teenage moodiness and an actual mental disorder without help.

Find Out For Yourself

The signs and symptoms listed below might prove your mood swings are more than natural hormonal changes. If you experience these symptoms for two weeks or more, it may mean you have a mental health issue:

  • Significant changes in appetite and dramatic weight loss or gain.


  • Odd sleeping habits, like sleeping too much or too little. The National Sleep Foundation says you need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night to function well. Any dramatic deviation from this could indicate a problem.


  • Repetitive behaviors like pacing back and forth or new tics.


  • Withdrawal from normal social activities, an apathetic attitude towards your friends or family. You’re no longer interested in things you used to love. You’re bored all the time and don’t care about much of anything an longer.


  • Dramatic change in your level of physical activity:This can happen when you lose interest in a sport or physical activity you used to do all the time.


  • Feeling Empty and Sad. You feel life is meaningless. You cry frequently or excessively.


  • Feeling Angry. Although you might assume that depression would result in crying and sadness, some depression presents itself as raw anger or rage. When you get depressed, you might become frustrated and hostile.


  • You pull away from important relationships like life-long friendships or relationships with beloved relatives.


  • You’re combative and argumentative with people you once enjoyed being around.


  • You’re overly sensitive of your physical appearance. You have huge reactions things that you used to take in stride, especially rejection or criticism.


  • You have a whole new group of friends. You might stay friends with the same people, even when dealing with depression. But often depression leads to hanging around with an entirely different group of people.


  • Different behavior at school. Your grades might drop dramatically or you might start getting in trouble more than you used to. You may also start skipping classes, or skipping school altogether.


  • You experience physical pain, such as stomachaches or headaches.


  • Thinking About Suicide. If you have thoughts like “the world is better off without me,” it’s time to talk to someone about what’s going on. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers in the U.S.

How to Tell Difference Between the Above Symptoms and Normal Teenage Moodiness

It often proves difficult to determine the difference between the typical teenage hormone roller coaster and symptoms of a mental illness. Pay close attention to any dramatic changes in your own behavior.

If your gut tells you something isn’t right, act quickly and seek the help you need from a professional, experienced medical professional.

Two Rules of Thumb

  1. If any of the symptoms above last for more than two weeks, then get help.
  2. If you think you need help, reach out to someone you trust.

Mental illness, like depression, tends to run in families. If you or someone in your family has suffered from mental illness, you’re more likely to also experience the problem. Thankfully, when you get the help of a trained professional and keep informed through reading articles like this one, you can get the help you need before your symptoms cause any more problems than they already have.


YourTango Experts A Few Signs Your Teenager May Be Depressed, Psych Central, July 2014. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/07/21/a-few-signs-your-teenager-may-be-depressed/

Teens and Sleep, National Sleep Foundation. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

Featured Posts

Enjoying these insights?

Subscribe here, so you never miss an update!

Connect with Other Parents

We know parents need support, too. That is exactly why we offer a chance for parents of teens to connect virtually in a safe space! Each week parents meet to share resources and talk through the struggles of balancing child care, work responsibilities, and self-care.

More questions? We’re here for you.