Mood swings are normal during the adolescent years; they are part of the transition to adulthood. The emotional roller coaster of sometimes exaggerated emotions that typical teens experience is part of the challenge of dealing with the pressures and changes of the teen years. Teenagers are in the process of establishing their own identity and expressing their individuality. Conflicts with parents are also typical at this age and might influence teens' moods. Confusion and conflict accompany teens as they have to deal with stress and anxiety from the sometimes overwhelming issues of physical changes, peer pressure, decision-making, and school obligations, as well as their busy schedule. Teens may feel self-conscious about their physical appearance, and they may worry about how they look and dress. Mood swings can also be a result of the hormones that cause the physical changes in teens, which may also cause emotional ups and downs that sometimes seem to be out of control.
Teens can be up one minute and down the next; they can be happy or sad and back again before parents have time to register their teen's current mood. However, severe and prolonged mood swings may be a sign of depression. Parents should watch out for increasingly severe symptoms and their duration. Teens may show a lack of interest in activities that they usually enjoy, they may shy away from social interactions with their friends, or exhibit changes in their usual behavior patterns. They may complain of constant tiredness, inability to concentrate, various aches and pains. Teens may express a sense of hopelessness and sadness that they can't explain. Untreated depression may lead to suicide, and if a depressive state continues for over two weeks, seek professional help.