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As a teen, how can I tell if I have a mood disorder?

Every annoying adult will tell a teenager that adolescence can be a troubling time. Hormones drive moods and the struggle to find both identity and your place with friends can be a touch and go experience. Observing friends' moods can help you gauge whether your own fall outside the typical range or not.

When your feelings seem more intense—either when you're happy or when you're sad—than those of your friends, it's worth exploring the signs and contours of a mood disorder. A chronically low mood or depression includes some or all of the following characteristics:
  • lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • persistent sadness
  • intense feelings of emptiness, worthlessness or guilt
  • restlessness
  • exhaustion, fatigue
  • sleep changes: insomnia or oversleeping
  • loss of focus or concentration
  • inability to make decisions
  • persistent thoughts of death or suicide
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • suicidal thoughts
If you or a loved one expresses thoughts of suicide, contact a medical professional, clergy member, family member or friend immediately or call 1-800-273-TALK. Suicidal thoughts result from biochemical imbalances that can be rectified.

The following feelings typify an abnormally high mood, otherwise known as the mania associated with bipolar disorder:
  • extremely good mood
  • a sense of invincibility and/or great confidence
  • tendency to start lots of ambitious projects
  • irritability, unprovoked rage
  • racing thoughts
  • talkativeness
  • a feeling of restlessness
  • paranoia
  • swinging high and low repeatedly

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.