As a teen, how can I tell if my mood swings are normal?

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If you're having persistent, intense sadness for periods of two weeks or more, to the point where you're staying home from school and other activities, you may be experiencing an imbalance of neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, serotonin and others) in your brain.

If you have periods of severe lows followed by periods where you're experiencing feelings that typify an abnormally high mood, you may have bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder can be misdiagnosed as having only depression because, interpreting them as positive, these individuals do not report their "up" or manic periods. Manic symptoms can feel good, but they can also ruin relationships, school achievement and job prospects. Further, if you engage in some kind of reckless behavior while you feel invincible during a manic high, the repercussions cannot be erased.

If biochemical compounds are interfering with your enjoyment of life and threatening your future, chances are biochemical compounds, introduced in the form of medicines, can chase those blues away. Decades of strict research have confirmed that depression and bipolar result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Often, this imbalance can be treated and rectified. It has nothing to do with character weakness or inability to cope.

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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.