Specializing In Autism, ADHD, and Pre-surgical Evaluations

Exploring Mood Disorders

Exploring Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are a significant mental health concern that can affect children and adolescents, impacting their emotional well-being, behavior, and daily functioning. Understanding these disorders is crucial for parents who are often the first to notice changes in their child’s mood and behavior. This blog from CPST Texas aims to provide an overview of mood disorders in children and adolescents, helping parents recognize the signs, understand potential causes, and learn how to support their child through these challenges.

What Are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are a category of mental health conditions characterized by persistent disturbances in mood that affect a child’s ability to function. The two most common mood disorders in children and adolescents are depression and bipolar disorder.


Depression in children and adolescents goes beyond typical sadness. It involves a prolonged period of sadness or loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness

  • Irritability or anger

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder involves extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Symptoms of mania may include:

  • Elevated or irritable mood

  • Increased energy and activity levels

  • Decreased need for sleep

  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts

  • Impulsiveness and risky behavior

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity

During depressive episodes, children may experience symptoms similar to those of major depression.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of mood disorders is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Children with a family history of mood disorders are at a higher risk. Other contributing factors may include:

  • Biological factors: Imbalances in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) can affect mood regulation.

  • Environmental factors: Traumatic or stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or abuse, can trigger mood disorders.

  • Psychological factors: Children with low self-esteem, chronic stress, or a negative outlook on life may be more susceptible.

Recognizing The Signs

Early recognition of mood disorders in children and adolescents is crucial for effective intervention. Parents should be aware of the following signs:

  • Persistent sadness or irritability: If your child seems unusually sad or irritable for an extended period, it may indicate a mood disorder.

  • Loss of interest: A noticeable decline in interest in activities once enjoyed can be a red flag.

  • Changes in behavior: Sudden changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from social activities, decline in academic performance, or increased aggression, should be taken seriously.

  • Physical symptoms: Mood disorders can manifest as physical complaints, such as headaches or stomachaches, without a clear medical cause.

Supporting Your Child

If you suspect your child has a mood disorder, it is essential to seek professional help. Here are some steps to support your child:

1. Open Communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their feelings. Listen actively and validate their emotions without dismissing their concerns.

2. Professional Evaluation: Consult a mental health professional who specializes in working with children and adolescents. A comprehensive evaluation can help identify the specific mood disorder and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

3. Consistent Routine: Establishing a consistent daily routine can provide stability and predictability, which can be reassuring for children with mood disorders. Ensure your child has regular sleep patterns, nutritious meals, and opportunities for physical activity.

4. Encourage Healthy Coping Strategies: Teach your child healthy ways to cope with stress and negative emotions. This can include mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques, creative outlets like art or music, and spending time in nature.

5. Foster a Supportive Environment: Create a supportive home environment where your child feels loved and valued. Encourage positive social interactions and involvement in activities that boost self-esteem.

6. School Support: Work with your child’s school to ensure they receive the necessary support. This can include academic accommodations, counseling services, and communication with teachers to monitor your child’s progress.

7. Monitor Progress: Regularly check in with your child and their mental health professional to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. Be patient and understanding, as recovery can take time.

Professional Intervention And Supportive Caregivers Matter

Mood disorders in children and adolescents can be challenging for both the child and their family. However, with early recognition, professional intervention, and a supportive environment, children can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. As a parent, your understanding, patience, and advocacy play a vital role in your child’s journey toward mental health and well-being. Remember, you are not alone—there are resources and professionals available to support you and your child every step of the way.

Supporting Mental Health In Children And Adolescents

At CPST, we believe that understanding common mental health conditions in children and adolescents is essential for promoting early intervention and providing appropriate support. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of these conditions, parents, caregivers, and educators can help young people navigate their mental health challenges effectively. With early intervention and support, children and adolescents can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

If you are seeking services for a child or adolescent between the ages of 2-17, CPST is glad to offer comprehensive psychological testing, autism testing, ADHD testing, and more. Together, we can navigate the complexities of mental health and pave the way towards a brighter future. For services in Plano, Duncanville, and Forth Worth, call 214-396-396 today.