Teen Mood and Thought Disorder Treatment
While mood and thought disorders are technically separate, both tend to exist together with varying intensity levels. For example, your teen may have bipolar disorder but never experience an episode of psychosis, while another might struggle with depression and the occasional psychotic break.
While mood and thought disorders both impact a teen’s perception of reality, only the latter includes psychosis and delusions. Each disorder is true to its name. In some cases, depression and delusions seem very similar, yet they are still different. Teens who struggle with both conditions often benefit from unique treatment plans carefully built around their individual needs.
What Does a Mood and Thought Disorder Look Like?
- Mood and depressive disorders frequently present with characteristics similar to Depression occurs on a vast and varied spectrum, and thus, the exact manifestation often depends on severity of symptoms and even the individual’s personality. Premenstrual dysphoria, postpartum depression, and major depressive disorders are examples.
- Psychotic and thought disorders also exist on a spectrum. Schizophrenia is an extreme example, often including delusions and sensory psychosis issues.
- Teens who struggle with both of these disorders at the same time often feel confused and depressed. The constant hallucinations and delusions, or other forms of paranoia, often lead them to consider self-harm.
Signs of a Mood and Thought Disorder
Withdrawal from social activities
Decreased energy levels
Hearing voices that don’t exist
Delusional thought patterns
What Are Mood and Thought Disorders?
As we mentioned previously, mood and thought disorders are very distinct mental health disorders. It is common for teens to be diagnosed with one of each simultaneously.
Thought Disorders - These conditions cause teens to think illogically, and may include delusional thought patterns and periods of psychosis. There are some milder forms of thought disorders that cause communication problems, cognitive issues, and others signs of a psychotic break. Psychotic disorders and schizophrenia are just a small section of a spectrum of conditions that are characterized by psychotic symptoms.
Mood Disorders - These conditions are generally characterized as having depressive symptoms. The exact symptoms depend on the diagnosis. Mania, for example, is one of the major symptoms of bipolar disorder. Other major depressive disorders include premenstrual dysphoric disorder, atypical depression, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, and more.
What Causes Mood and Thought Disorders?
The human brain is complex and there are a myriad of factors impacting how it works. There are also an infinite number of possible anomalies that can make it work incorrectly and cause strange symptoms. Some people are born with risk factors; others develop them later in life.
In many cases, a disruption in the brain’s balance is caused by a trauma, such as the death of a loved one or abuse. Other risk factors include:
Environmental factors - Lifestyle choices, work stress, and peer pressure are all forms of external stimuli with the power to alter or trigger the brain. Combative partners or parents, living in a difficult home environment, and having children all qualify as potential triggers, too.
Genetic factors - Genetic risk factors are not a guarantee that a teen will develop a thought or mood disorder, but they do make teens more likely to develop them. Some teens handle stress with ease, while those with a genetic risk factor may be more likely to become triggered into depression. Scientists do not really understand why the brain reacts this way.
Trauma - Traumatic events force the brain past what is considered a normal boundary line. The traumatized mind continuously focuses on the same upsetting event, leading to the development of unhealthy and sometimes dangerous coping mechanisms. Teens struggling with trauma issues will often try to find ways to rationalize whatever happened to them, no matter how cruel.
Biological factors - Biology is different from genetics. These influences include changes to the physical body from head trauma, brain tumors, pregnancy, giving birth, thyroid and endocrine disorders, and other hormonal conditions. All of these have a huge impact on the way a person feels, triggering mental health symptoms.
people have a schizoaffective disorder
of Americans have schizophrenia
Americans have a major depressive disorder
How Can I Help My Teen with Mood and Thought Disorder?
Create a foundation of trust - Trust is difficult to maintain during the teen years, but teens with mental health disorders need to feel they can trust you more than ever. A teen who truly trusts you may actually consider what you say when you feel the need to communicate about their symptoms. This is especially critical if you plan to encourage them to seek treatment or if their moods and thought processes are deteriorating.
Educate yourself - The more you know, the better you’ll be able to empathize. Having a strong understanding of how your teen’s mind works will help you communicate with your teen while also giving you the tools you need to communicate with their doctors and therapists.
Stay healthy - It’s easy to put yourself last when you are worried about a loved one. Make sure you are taking the time to take care of yourself physically, focusing on nutrition and exercise. Take note of your own stress levels and assess your own mental health from time to time. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
What Types of Mood and Thought Disorder Treatment Are Available?
Therapy and medications are the most common mood and thought disorder treatment methods. What your teen’s doctor chooses depends on the severity of your teen’s symptoms and how your teen reacts to the drugs. In some cases, your teen may need to try a couple of different options before settling on one solution that seems to work best. The same is true of therapy. It takes time to build a treatment program unique to each teen.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antipsychotics, and atypical antipsychotics are often used when teens present with more severe symptoms. Different antidepressants (like tricyclics or Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) may be tried if SSRIs aren’t effective. Teens who present with manic behavior patterns may also need to try anticonvulsants, like Lamictal, or drugs like lithium to manage their symptoms.
Thought and mood disorders are best treated with individual therapy sessions. These one-on-one sessions give your teen and their therapists time to identify irrational thinking habits, learn to separate them from normal thought patterns, and then finally discover methods for shifting moods without self-medicating as needed. Therapy takes time, but is often remarkably effective.
Your teen’s doctor or therapist may decide to include other forms of therapy in his or her treatment plan. These additions could include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or group therapy. All elements are aimed at helping teens better cope with their emotions and stressors or triggers.
It’s important for the entire family to be involved in the treatment program. Family therapy sessions give everyone a chance to work through any home-life issues that may be contributing to your teen’s stress or mood. It also ensures everyone is able to participate in creating a safe, functional, and healing home environment.
Teen Mood and Thought Disorder Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco
Paradigm San Francisco understands just how important it is to find balance when treating co-occurring thought and mood disorders. We always start with an in-depth psychiatric evaluation. Then, our experts work closely and patiently with your teen to create a custom treatment plan based on their symptoms and needs.
No two teens are alike, nor are their thought and mood disorders. While teens may participate in different activities together, each has a separate and unique overall treatment plan during their time at Paradigm. We combine experimental therapy approaches with traditional methods, all compassionately executed by compassionate and experienced staff.
Teen mood and though disorder treatment requires delicate balance. Your teen will be closely monitored as they fluctuate, change, and progress throughout the course of their program.
Treatment is the Beginning
Your teen’s program at Paradigm San Francisco is just the beginning. Thought and mood disorders tend to be chronic, so your teen will need to learn how to manage their symptoms far into the future. This is why we work so closely with family members to ensure teens are returning to a healthy environment.
“ Of any place that my parents sent me to, this is by far the best of the best. I was instantly welcomed and treated with respect. The counselors listened to me, helped me identify what the real problem was and why I was having trouble. The staff was in complete control and never let any situation escalate with any of the other kids here. Even keeping in touch with my parents was not seen as a problem. They were more than happy to keep my parents informed of my progress and I even was able to see them. This center was such a better experience than anywhere else I had been. I have been clean and sober now for almost three months, and was taught the skills I needed to learn in order to maintain after my treatment was over. “
– Carl D.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mood and Thought Disorder
Is there a cure for thought disorders like schizophrenia?
While schizophrenia can be treated, it is considered a chronic disorder. It may flare up during periods of despair, intense emotion, or extreme stress. A healthy routine, including lifestyle changes and medication, will help your teen keep their symptoms in remission so they can live a normal and happy life.
It is important to note that remission isn’t a cure. Other thought disorders, such as those triggered by physical illness, injury, or emotional trauma, can be temporary. Curing the cause can, in these specific cases, sometimes cure the disorder itself.
Shouldn’t depression be characterized as a thought disorder, since it can include delusional thought patterns?
Depressive thoughts sometimes get categorized as delusional because they are based on irrational fears. The difference here is that the mood is the cause of the thought pattern. They can snowball into a cycle of worsening moods and worsening thoughts, but depressive disorders are categorized as not really having a realistic cause. Yes, you can feel depressed after a traumatic incident or a death, but for most people, those moods pass. Chronic low moods with no identifiable trigger are a sign of depression. Again, here, the mood causes the thoughts. True delusional thoughts seem to be unattached to a mood and some people find them to be a “positive” experience.