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Mental Health

Rise Of Mood Disorders In Teens: How Parents Can Help

Binish Ahmed

It is difficult to diagnose mood disorders in children and teens since they’re not able to express how they feel.

Is your child acting grumpy of late? Have they suddenly started to isolate themselves from the family? If yes, worry not, you are not the only parent experiencing this with their kids. When kids display such behaviours, chances are that they might be suffering from a mood disorder. 

Mood disorders in today’s youth are often overlooked when given the fact that suicide is one of the top reasons for death in the age group 15-29. Every hour 15 youths commit suicide in our country! Though mental health awareness has increased, the scenario in our country has not changed much. The stigma related to mental health disorders is quite prevalent. People still associate “paagal” with depression and utter, “I am depressed” casually when depression has not been diagnosed clinically. Thus, the biggest challenge in our country regarding mental health is misconceptions and widespread ignorance.

Understanding mood disorders

Unlike moody behaviour, mood disorders are a drastic change from a normal mood to either towards extreme happiness or sadness. Such disorders are either inherited, acquired through environmental factors (such as, unexpected life-events, childhood trauma and stress) or caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. 

Symptoms of mood disorders

It is difficult to diagnose mood disorders in children and teens since they’re not able to express how they feel. Children or teens may show differences in symptoms than as seen in adults. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Irritable mood lasting for more than two weeks
  • Ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, guilt or selflessness
  • Loss of interest in an activity which was enjoyed once
  • Sleep problems either sleeping too much or too less
  • Low self-esteem
  • Changes in appetite
  • Being angry or grouchy
  • Strained relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts

It may start from home

Mental health experts suggest that these psychological and physical deterioration is on a constant rise among adolescents. Factors such as family problems, peer pressure, substance abuse, academic performance pressure and internet addiction increase the risk of mood disorders. Often, the homes of the children are the main reasons where the psychological rhythm is disturbed. Due to this, children experience depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders and suicidal intentions. 

What does your child want?

  • Needs unconditional love
  • To be acknowledged for what they feel
  • To be validated and guided
  • Wants to be treated as a growing individual

What should parents do?

Parents should be supportive of their children and make efforts to balance the home and educational environment. However, one cannot say that life should be a bed of roses for the children. In fact, small crises are important for a child’s development and help them build resilience in life. Keep in mind that as a parent, you should be able to manage your emotions effectively, be assertive and communicate properly with your child. Here are some ways you can help your child cope with adolescence:

  • Be supportive and open to communication
  • Always exercise a sense of control
  • Avoid comparison with other children
  • Constantly motivate your child
  • Establish a quality family time through leisure activities
  • Take your child’s consent before making decisions for them

Words to remember

If you notice drastic mood changes in your child then understand that something was seriously wrong. Your child should receive a consultation at the earliest before the damage is done. Keep in mind that a child’s greatest support is their parents. And a parent’s greatest joy resides in their children. Thus, this relationship should be nurtured with utmost care. This sturdy connection will prove to be useful against the ordeal of teenage life.

If your child is showing drastic mood changes for some time, it is advisable that you consult with an expert. Mental health professionals at mfine are just one tap away.

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