Teen Mood Disorder Treatment

Everyone experiences mood swings from time to time, but frequent, unhealthy shifts are a sign your teen may be struggling with a mood disorder. Mood disorders can be characterized as depressed or manic, with your teen alternating between periods of debilitating sadness and sudden happiness and high energy levels.

What Does a Teen Mood Disorder Look Like?

  • Your teen’s mood changes may have no identifiable triggers; or your teen’s mood may not change even though circumstances dictate that it should have.
  • Teens struggling with a mood disorder have negative thought patterns, may think about suicide, and are generally always in a depressed mood.
  • Teens exhibit symptoms of manic or depressed symptoms at least a couple of times per year, coming and going in waves. They may be irritable, excited, or even restless.

Signs of a Teen Mood Disorder

Extreme fatigue

Extreme fatigue

Feeling rejected

Feeling rejected

Isolation and withdrawal

Isolation and withdrawal

Overeating or avoiding eating

Overeating or avoiding eating

Stomach cramps and/or pain

Stomach cramps and/or pain

Insomnia or hypersomnia

Insomnia or hypersomnia

Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts

Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts

Types of Teen Mood Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder - This is the condition commonly referred to as Depression. It is one of the most common mood disorders diagnosed in teens. Sufferers experience an extended period where they feel low; this may or may not fluctuate into normal mood from time to time. Depression is common after a sad or upsetting event, but it shouldn’t necessarily outlast the event for an extended period of time. Teens with Major Depressive Disorder often report feeling hopeless.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - This is also very common. It usually impacts teens who live in areas where there is little sunlight. Symptoms of depression tend to climb during the winter months, as do instances of suicide.

Bipolar Disorder (BD) - BD is categorized as either Bipolar I or Bipolar II, both of which include periods where someone is either depressed or manic. Teens with Bipolar I tend to be more manic while teens with Bipolar II tend to be more depressed. with either no manic episodes or manic episodes that are not nearly as severe.

Cyclothymic Disorder (CD) - CD is similar to Bipolar disorder. However, the symptoms are far less severe.

Postpartum Depression (PPD) - Incredibly common after childbirth and commonly goes untreated. Researchers think it is caused by the hormone shifts that happen during pregnancy and childbirth. Women tend to feel hopeless, depressed, and angry and exhibit erratic behavior patterns.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) - Not the same as feeling a bit moody or blue before and during menstruation. Women with this disorder see a very marked increase in severe depressive symptoms as they go through their cycles.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder - is common in younger children and teens. They lack control of their behavior, can be violent, and report disruptive thought patterns.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) - Occurs when a person is chronically depressed for a period of at least two years. Also known as dysthymia, the symptoms can be mild, but they are persistent.

Request a Call

  • We are here to assist you and answer your questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Teen Mood Disorder Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

What Causes a Teen Mood Disorder

Researchers at one point believed mood disorders were caused by chemical imbalances that impacted the neurotransmitters in the brain. Now they’re not as confident, instead seeing more and more proof that mood disorders that create manic and depressive symptoms are more likely biopsychosocial. Environmental factors, trauma, hormone changes, and even gut flora may play a role.

Gut Flora - Did you know your gut is an extension of your nervous system? Your nerves work in harmony with all of the microorganisms that reside there. Environmental factors, diseases, and disorders that alter the natural balance of flora in your gut can lead to problems, including symptoms of depression and anxiety. As a result, you may have trouble regulating your moods, maintaining a healthy weight, or even sleeping well.

Thyroid and Hormonal Disorders - Disorders that impact the thyroid, including both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, significantly increase your odds of developing a depressive disorder. Any disorder that impacts your hormones can impact the way your moods are regulated.

Trauma and Pain - Trauma and pain can be physical or psychological and can cause a teen who has otherwise shown no signs of a mental health disorder to become depressed. Risk factors include growing up in a difficult environment, physical abuse, or mental abuse.


of teens develop a mood disorder.


of people with mood disorders seek treatment.


11% of teens struggle to function due to mood disorders.

How Can I Help with a Teen Mood Disorder?

Educate Yourself - The more you know about your teen’s mood disorder diagnosis, the easier it is to handle the challenges that come with it. You will be better able to see warning signs and triggers and anticipate how your teen will handle different scenarios. Knowledge is power, and what you know will help you to support your teen as they learn better coping mechanisms.

Patience - Is critical. To anyone on the outside, a mood disorder looks like self-pity. It’s confusing to watch. The reality is that what your teen feels is very real, confusing, and scary and may even leave your teen feeling as though they have nothing to live for. Depression leaves people feeling hopeless. Your teen needs you to be there for them, to show support and to make sure they don’t cause themselves harm. Treatment takes time and is a bit of a two-step-forward, one-step-back process. Each day will be different.

Positive Lifestyle Changes - Certain lifestyle habits can make a teen’s mood disorder worse. A healthy lifestyle full of positive experiences can help keep severe episodes at bay. Make a family effort to eat healthier and find new activities to enjoy. Your teen will need your help to live life to the fullest while overcoming and growing around their disorder.

What Types of Teen Mood Disorder Treatment are Available?

The teen mood disorder treatment your teen receives will depend on the severity of their symptoms, but there are several different options available. Disorders that develop as a result of trauma can usually be treated with therapy while those caused by hormone regulation issues may require lifestyle changes and medication.

Talk Therapy

Therapy is the first line of defense when it comes to treating depression. A therapist will work with your teen to help them better understand their thoughts. Teens who struggle with depression for an extended period of time settle into patterns of self-loathing and negative thought patterns. Therapy helps teens learn the difference between a thawed thought process and a healthy thinking pattern. Friends and family members will be encourage to help form a strong support network.

Group Therapy

A lot of teens with depressive disorders have trouble communicating. Group therapy gives teens the ability to talk to others – especially those who better understand what they are going through. This leads to stronger relationships, less anxiety at school or at work, and fewer problems.


Teens with depressive disorders are often given antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to normalize levels of serotonin in the brain. As a result, your teen’s thinking patterns may become clearer and negative thoughts will be significantly reduced. More severe mood disorders, like Bipolar Disorder, may necessitate the use of additional drugs, including anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, or lithium.

Alternative Therapy

There are many new therapies available that help teens relax and encourage them to make healthier life choices. Some of these include:

  • Massage therapy
  • Practicing aromatherapy
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthier diets
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Creative therapies, like music and art
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Teen Mood Disorder Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

The healing environment at Paradigm San Francisco is designed to give your teen a safe place to focus on treatment without worrying about school or work obligations and responsibilities. Our San Francisco location is nestled into nature, creating a relaxing environment. We have all of the the amenities your teen could possibly ever need.

At Paradigm, your teen will have a daily schedule full of therapy sessions, and classes. But don’t worry; there’s plenty of time to rest and be creative, too. They’ll learn a lot about themselves during treatment.

Decreased Stress Levels

Residential treatment programs are especially helpful because they help to reduce the stress in a teen’s life during healing. They can focus on their disorder without worrying about school or home life factors. Being away from stressful atmospheres helps teens to avoid associated triggers while also granting the chance to talk through past issues and learn how to function more efficiently in social atmospheres. It’s just the break a teen needs to learn the exercises and coping mechanisms necessary for continuing progress at home.

Time in the Great Outdoors

Paradigm San Francisco is within walking distance of several beautiful locations, including the the beautiful San Rafael Bay and a nature preserve. We encourage all of our teens to spend time outside, whether they choose to simply walk in the sun or play a sport. Studies have shown that enjoying the ocean air and relaxing in a wooded environment can make a huge difference in a teen’s mood and overall mental health.

“ The team, knowledge, protocols and community at Paradigm gave us hope when we didn't think it was possible! Our 16-year has been struggling with anxiety and severe depression and seemed stuck. We felt we had no where else to go. After 40 days, I feel like we've gotten our daughter back! Its been an amazing experience. She now has tools, perspective, improved self love and a resilience we haven't seen in two years. We have much work to do going forward but I can't express how appreciative we are to have her back, and an opportunity for the future she deserves. “

– Parent

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Mood Disorder

How long will this mood disorder last; will it get worse?

While some people only experience the symptoms of a mood disorder for a short period of time, others will struggle for their entire lives. Some will feel great for extended periods of time but then have more serious flare-ups after stressful life triggers. Seeking treatment will ensure you are able to live a full and productive life, no matter what type of symptom you have or for how long.

It is important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. It’s easier to treat a mood disorder in its earlier stages. Teens who wait until their symptoms are severe to seek treatment are more likely to do something destructive or have suicidal ideation.

Do I have to take medication?

Not necessarily. A doctor may recommend medication for severe symptoms, and they can help to manage symptoms, but they aren’t always mandatory. Many people find that therapy is all they need to help them better deal with their mood disorder. Sometimes, teens think medications don’t work; this is often because it can take some time to find the right medication. Teens may need to try different medication therapies to figure out which will work best.

Do I really need treatment?

Absolutely. Left untreated, mood disorders always increase in severity. You shouldn’t ignore your symptoms or try to handle your disorder on your own. A lot of people ignore their symptoms because they think they will go away on their own while others simply feel so bad they don’t even care about finding help. The earlier you start teen mood disorder treatment, the easier it will be to help you feel happy again.

Ready to take the next step?

Call now for a free assessment with a counselor or to start the admissions process.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Call Now