We all feel low sometimes, but it is important to notice if such low moods become more intense and pervasive in adolescents. When such low moods last for longer periods of time, associated with disinterest in pleasurable activities, lack of motivation, crying spells, etc, it may lead to a depressive phase, affecting the physical and mental health of an adolescent and hindering normal functioning. It is crucial to be aware of other factors that could be related to such feelings, e.g., use of any substances, changes in hormone levels, any medical conditions, adjustment issues, and stress related conditions, etc.
The following symptoms may represent mild-moderate disturbances in mood:
1. Feelings- sadness, anger, mood swings, guilt, fear, anxiety.
2. Thoughts- negative thinking, pessimism, hopelessness, problems in concentrating, decision making, remembering.
3. Physical Problems- weight loss/gain, fatigue, disturbance in sleep.
4. Behaviours- avoidance of situations, withdrawal from people, harmful behaviour.
Disturbances in mood can severely hamper one’s functionality, self-esteem, motivation, academic performance, behaviour, attitudes and thinking. Professional help is essential to help an adolescent combat these feelings, and also to equip them with skills to deal with stressors effectively. Building resilience in adolescents becomes an integral aspect in their development. Adequate social support from parents and friends can further enhance one’s coping. Furthermore, changes in lifestyle such as adequate sleep, regular exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and stress management can enhance the coping skills of adolescents.
“Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was”. ~ Richard L. Evans