Is Your Teen Just Moody or Something More? – 6 Parenting Tips

1. Interest in Activities

One telltale sign of depression is whether a person loses interest in the things that they love to do. For example, someone who likes to write now doesn’t have the motivation to pick up their pen (or laptop).

In teenagers, this can be tricky as they often jump from one exciting interest to another. This is perfectly normal.

If your teen is moody but still doing the things they like to do—sports, games, hobbies, etc.—then they might not be depressed. However, if you have noticed a sudden drop-off in interest toward those activities, then there could be something more going on.

2. Consistency at School

Another indicator is their performance at school. Again, if your child is moody but still
going to class, interacting with friends, and studying then they probably are not depressed.

Even if your child isn’t the greatest student but their performance hasn’t changed drastically, then they are most likely not struggling with depression.

The big concern is when there is a drastic change in academic performance, which is usually for the worse, including:

  • Getting poorer grades

  • Skipping classes

  • Ditching school

  • Facing disciplinary action

3. Interactions with Other Adults

Even though it’s hard to understand for some adults, sometimes when a teen is moody it’s just with their parents. However, when they interact with other adults, their personality changes.

Maybe they become more social. Or, on the other hand, they become more introverted. These shifts can be frustrating when you seem to have a harder time interacting with your teen than other adults.

However, if they always seem down or have low-energy with everybody, then perhaps something more is going on.

4. Signs of Alcohol or Drug Use

People who are depressed often resort to alcohol or drug use as a way of coping with their feelings. The same can be said for teens as well.

However, if you catch your child smoking marijuana and it was their first time, does that mean they are depressed? Hard to say. That situation will require some further exploration.

Yet, if you know there has been a consistent pattern of drug or alcohol use, then that’s a situation worth exploring.

5. Use of Social Media

Often, teenagers seem surgically attached to their phones. Also, many teens who are not depressed still have trouble balancing the need for connection and remaining present in the real world.

Having conversations about cell phone use at the dinner table has become quite common. On the other hand, being online all of the time to the point where it interferes with their life is a different story.

An example of this would be skipping school to play online games instead.

6. Emotional Issues

Happiness is a loaded term that has a wide range of meaning for different people. Yet, you know your teen best.

Even if they are moody, do they still have moments where they are happy or content? Or, are they constantly struggling with being positive at all?

Do they have conversations with you that are “typical” for them? On the other hand, do they seem completely shut down?

Discerning the mood of a teenager is no easy task. Yet, if you are concerned about whether your teen is just moody or if they’re dealing with depression, consistency is key. Be observant of their behavior and look for patterns and trends.

If you’d like support in parenting a teenager or deciphering their moods, please reach out to me today.