Adolescent Mood Disorders

Mood Disorder refers to what are some called Affective Disorders that include depression and bipolar disorder caused by imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain or to unexpected life events or stresses. There are genetic and environmental components that make more likely for parents to pass on the likelihood of having a mood disorder.

Types, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Some of the more common Mood Disorders found in children include:

  • Major Depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

These disorders are usually diagnosed with a Psychiatric Evaluation taking into account patient history, family history, corroborative information, and symptoms. Symptoms depend on age and disorder; some of these symptoms can include: persistent sadness, feeling hopeless or helpless, low self-esteem, excessive guilt, wanting to die, feeling inadequate, loss of interest, problems with relationships, insomnia, sleeping excessively, poor or increased appetite, increased or decreased weight, low energy, problems concentrating, poor decision making, suicidal thoughts, running away, irritability, and aggression.


Treatment for mood disorder should be comprehensive, be specific to the disorder, and specific to the child’s age. A Psychiatric Provider can help prescribe and manage medications that can be effective in treating mood disorders when they are necessary and especially when combined with psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can help identify stressors, modify the way the child or adolescent experiences stress, and build coping skills. Family therapy is helpful when family dynamics plays a role into the disorder. Finally, consulting with the child or teen’s school can be helpful in addressing aggravating issues in the school.