A parent's roadmap to understanding mood swings

A parent's roadmap to understanding fluctuations, anxiety, and depression in children. 


Adolescence unveiled

Puberty introduces a period of profound transformation in your child's life, where physical shifts and hormonal surges coincide with mood swings. Navigating this tumultuous phase is akin to exploring uncharted territories, where emotions sway like a pendulum, influenced by the reign of hormones.

Deciphering typical adolescent mood fluctuations

Puberty is often synonymous with mood swings, but it's crucial to understand the nuances between normal fluctuations and potential signs of underlying issues. Let's delve deeper into what these mood swings typically entail:


Your teenager may experience mood shifts triggered by various factors such as stress, social interactions, or hormonal changes. For instance, they might bounce from feelings of happiness to moments of irritability in response to different situations or stimuli. For instance, after a stressful day at school, Adam might come home feeling happy and relieved to relax. However, if Adam encounters a disagreement with a friend later in the evening, this could quickly shift his mood to irritability or frustration.

Similarly, hormonal changes during puberty might also contribute to these fluctuations, causing Alex to oscillate between different emotional states throughout the day. These fluctuations are typically nothing to worry about because they are a normal part of adolescent development. These fluctuations are usually short-lived and do not significantly disrupt daily functioning. For instance, if a teenager feels irritable after a stressful situation, they quickly bounce back to their usual state of mind once the stressor has passed.


This refers to the intensity of a teenager's emotional reaction to specific situations or events. Teens tend to have strong reactions to stimuli in their environment, whether positive or negative. Consider Sarah, a teenager who just received the exciting news that she has been accepted into her dream college. In response to this achievement, Sarah might experience intense feelings of happiness and excitement, perhaps even jumping for joy or sharing the news enthusiastically with her friends and family.

Conversely, imagine Sarah encountering a setback, such as not performing as well as expected on a test she studied hard for. In this situation, Sarah might feel frustrated, disappointed, or even upset. She may express her emotions by venting to a friend, seeking reassurance from a parent, or taking some time alone to process her feelings. Despite the intensity of these emotional reactions, they typically dissipate once the triggering event subsides. After celebrating her college acceptance or processing her disappointment over the test, Sarah is likely to return to a more stable emotional state.

This responsiveness to different situations is a normal part of adolescence and helps teenagers navigate the ups and downs of life as they continue to learn and grow. So, while these emotions can be intense, they usually dissipate once the triggering event subsides.


Typical mood swings in teenagers are transient, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. They may disrupt the flow of the day momentarily but generally don't significantly affect overall functioning.

Contextual influence

Adolescent mood swings are often influenced by specific circumstances or events. For example, your child might feel anxious before a big test or elated after receiving good news from friends.

Anxiety and depression in adolescence

While mood swings are a normal part of puberty, it's essential to be aware of the potential impact of anxiety and depression on your teenager's emotional well-being. Adolescence can be a challenging time, as teens grapple with academic pressures, social changes, and identity development. For some teenagers, these challenges may trigger feelings of anxiety or depression.

Anxiety disorders can manifest in various ways, such as excessive worry, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and physical symptoms like restlessness or fatigue. Depression, on the other hand, may present as persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

It's essential to pay attention to any persistent or concerning changes in your teenager's mood, behaviour, or functioning. If you notice signs of anxiety or depression, such as withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed, changes in sleep or eating habits, or expressing feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, it's crucial to seek support from a healthcare professional. Early intervention and treatment can make a significant difference in managing anxiety and depression in teenagers.

Understanding these characteristics can help you differentiate between normal mood swings and potential red flags that require closer attention.

Recognising signs of concern

While mood swings are a normal part of adolescence, certain signs may indicate underlying issues that need to be addressed. Let's explore some scenarios to illustrate:

Intense highs and lows

Mia's story

Imagine Mia, a 17-year-old, who experiences extreme mood swings. She alternates between periods of boundless energy and deep despair. During her "highs," she engages in impulsive behaviours, while during her "lows," she isolates herself and shows little interest in activities she once enjoyed. These stark contrasts suggest the possibility of bipolar disorder.

Rapid shifts between moods

Leo's story

Meet Leo, a 14-year-old who undergoes rapid mood cycling. Within the span of days, he oscillates between bursts of energy and profound sadness. These swift transitions disrupt his daily life, hinting at potential bipolar disorder.

Emotional turmoil

Emma's story

Consider Emma, a 16-year-old struggling with severe emotional dysregulation. She often experiences intense tantrums and uncontrollable anger, which disrupt her relationships and functioning. These emotional outbursts may indicate mood dysregulation disorders.

Impairment in functioning

Jake's story

Visualise Jake, a 15-year-old whose emotional turmoil significantly impairs his daily life. He struggles to concentrate in school, maintain relationships, and regulate his emotions effectively. Jake's distress extends across various domains, affecting his overall well-being.

Self-harm or suicidal ideation

Any expressions of self-harm or suicidal thoughts should be treated as urgent concerns, as they may indicate serious underlying issues that require immediate intervention.

Seeking assistance

If you're uncertain about your child's mood swings, don't hesitate to seek guidance from trusted adults or professionals. There are resources available, such as doctors, mental health charities such as ‘Mind’, and NHS support services, that can provide assistance and support.

Hypnotherapy: A holistic approach

Hypnotherapy offers a holistic approach to managing emotions during puberty. Through relaxation techniques and visualisation exercises, it helps teenagers understand and cope with their mood swings and anxiety, fostering a sense of calm amidst the turbulence of adolescence.

For further assistance, you can contact info@harleystreetconsulting.com for a free mood tracker, which can provide valuable insights into your child's emotional well-being and mental health concerns.

While mood swings are a normal part of puberty, it's essential to recognise warning signs that may indicate underlying issues. By understanding these nuances and seeking support when needed, both teenagers and parents can navigate adolescence with resilience.

Hypnotherapy offers an additional tool for managing emotions on the rollercoaster journey of puberty. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need further guidance.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Maidenhead SL6 & London W1G
Written by Meera Mehat, Clinical Hypnotherapist- Anxiety, Stress, Trauma & Menopause
Maidenhead SL6 & London W1G

Meera Mehat, an expert in healing and transformation, brings over 30 years of expertise as a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner, coach, and teacher. She focuses on emotional well-being, behavior change, and impacting lives globally. Specializing in trauma intervention, stress management, children's support, and menopause assistance.

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