What causes teenage mood swings?

During adolescence teenage mood swings can be very common. This is partly due to the fact that there is a large increase in hormones flooding through a teenager's body.

For girls - oestrogen and progesterone trigger breast growth, change in body shape, appearance of body hair and, sooner or later, the start of periods. Testosterone triggers the increase in the female hormones.

For boys - it is testosterone which causes rapid increase in height, growth of body hair, deepening of the voice, increase in size of penis and testicles. Oestrogen helps with the production of testosterone.

Teenagers have larger amounts of hormones circulating through their bodies than most adults do. They need these amounts to trigger puberty and the necessary physical changes. Once the changes have taken place, then the level of hormones settles at a lower level.

These hormones also have effects on the emotions. High oestrogen can lower progesterone and result in anxiety and paranoia. High progesterone can cause tearfulness and, sometimes, depression. A large amount of testosterone can be a source of aggression.

It’s not just hormones that explain teenage mood swings. For girls and boys the changes taking place in their bodies can produce a lot of conflicting emotions.

Your daughter may still feel like a child yet she can see that her body is becoming more like an adult's. She may be getting spots, starting her periods, be a little overweight (or think she is), developing earlier than her friends, worrying about how she looks, etc. All of these things can make her feel self conscious and embarrassed. Some of them may cause feelings of pride and excitement. It is more or less guaranteed that there will be big fluctuations in how she feels.

Your son’s voice will get deeper, he will grow very fast, his genitals will be growing (although he is very unlikely to let you know this!), he may be having wet dreams and will also become much more conscious of how he looks, especially to girls. He may also experience a lot of embarrassment alongside an awareness of becoming more strong and powerful in the world.

It won't last forever!

Mood swings can be very difficult to deal with. However, your teenager needs your support more than ever when they are feel low, self conscious and embarrassed. Do your best to understand how your teenager is feeling. Even though they will often refuse to tell you how they feel and may well find you a source of embarrassment, remember that you went through this stage too. Even if your parents were not supportive to you during your adolescence, now is your opportunity to turn that around for teenager’s sake. Focus on what you love in him, show that you appreciate him and keep in mind that this is just a stage. It will pass!


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