Health Watch -- Moody Teens

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Is your teenager just being moody, or is there a real problem?

Parents of teens know that moodiness often comes with the territory. Raging hormones, peer pressure, relationships and school all add up to make the teen years turbulent. But doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say sometimes teenage moodiness goes beyond typical teenage behavior.

Dr. Graham, UT Southwestern's director of child and adolescent psychiatry, says that depression is a problem with more teens than most people realize. As many as 3 and a half million teens are diagnosed with depression every year. About 400,000 teens make serious suicide attempts each year.

How do you know whether your teen is depressed or just moody? Look for behavior changes that persist. Does that negative mood linger well beyond the first few weeks of school or a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend? Is your teen sleeping too much or too little? Has your teen's appetite changed so that he or she is eating too much or very little? Does your teen no longer want to spend time with friends, or does he or she no longer seem to enjoy activities that once were favorites? Do they talk about feeling worthless? Has he or she ever brought up the subject of suicide?

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from depression, seek medical help. Depression is more than just a blue mood. It is a medical condition, and a potentially serious one.