• By Deborah Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: How to tell if your teen is moody versus depressed

August 16, 2018

Depression can affect how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves. In extreme cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts. It's important to know if your teen is depressed versus being a normal, moody teen.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.

"All teens can go through periods where they’re down or they’re cranky, they’re irritable, they’re just mean," says Dr. Paul Croarkin (pronounced Cork-in), a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist.

A moody teen has brief bursts of teen angst, usually focused only toward mom and dad, or other authority figures. But a depressed teen has mood changes that are consistent across environments.

These may be signs that your teen needs to be evaluated for depression.

"Start with a primary care provider, a family practice health care provider, a pediatrician or a mental health provider," says Dr. Croarkin.

He says lifestyle changes, such as strict sleeping schedules, monitoring screen usage, eating a healthy diet and regular exercise, sometimes can help in mild cases.

"For moderate or severe symptoms, teenagers will benefit from things like psychotherapy or the judicious use of medications."

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