Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Help Your Teen's Mood Swings

Lifestyle changes can ease your teen through the worst of adolescent emotions.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

"Help! My teenager is so moody and cranky." Does that sound like someone in your household? Teens have a lot on their plate: homework, friendship dramas, maybe a new relationship or a breakup. Plus, their bodies are changing and they're starting to separate from their parents. That's all normal. But if you suspect something more might be going on, consider these aspects of your child's life.

Quality of sleep. Bedtime isn't just for little kids. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need eight to nine hours of sleep a night. In a recent study that looked at more than 15,000 teens, lack of sleep was linked to depression. Teens who went to bed past midnight were 24% more likely to be depressed and were also more likely to have suicidal thoughts. You may think there's little you can do to get your teen to respect a lights-out rule. But more than 70% of teens say they go to bed at a time that parents set, so your opinion still matters.

Moods and possible depression. The teen years are often painted as "the best years of your life," but let's face it, they can be plenty rocky. Some teens -- up to 1 in 8 -- develop depression. Watch for symptoms such as appetite or sleep changes, lower energy levels, and irritability. Lots of teens go through mild changes and are not depressed. But if you see big swings from your teen's usual behavior, take it seriously. Talk to him, without judgment, and remember that seeing a therapist might help you both.

Diet and fitness. Pay attention to what your teen eats (or doesn't eat). First, how healthy are his meals? Does he eat breakfast? A sound diet can make a real difference in mood and how he thinks. In one study of teens, those who ate breakfast had better moods and were more alert than those who did not. Second, is your teen active? Exercise is a known mood-booster and stress reliever because it releases the body's feel-good chemicals such as endorphins.

Above all, try to be compassionate and remember what it was like to be that age. Of course, you should always feel free to bring up any concerns with your doctor. But often, you are the person your teen needs most -- even if he doesn't act like it.

Expert Tip

"Don't belittle whatever your teens are going through, and don't overreact either. Make sure they know you believe in them." -- Hansa Bhargava, MD

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD the Magazine."

Reviewed on September 12, 2012

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd