Occasional bad moods are natural during teen years


May 10, 1994|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Special to The Sun

Q: I am 16 years old and don't have many problems at home or school. Sometimes, though, I get this feeling of loneliness and at other times I get in a really bad mood for no particular reason. It has nothing to do with my period so I do wonder what causes it and what I can do about it.

A: It's perfectly natural for teen-agers, just like adults, to have days where they feel sad, angry, lonely or depressed. Often, but not always, these moods can be traced to something that happened at school, at work or in the family. The feelings may arise from a disagreement with a friend, an argument with one of your parents or disappointment because you didn't get the grade you wanted after working hard on a school project.

As long as the feelings don't persist for more than a few days and don't interfere with your normal activities, you need not worry about occasional bad moods.

If, however, you notice yourself lacking the energy to do the things you normally like to do, if you're having trouble sleeping or you're losing interest in the activities you normally find pleasure in, then you should definitely seek out help of an adult you trust. This can be a parent, someone in your religious organization, a counselor or teacher at school or a health-care provider.

What can you do to get yourself out of an occasional bad mood? Suggestions we've heard from teen-agers include reading a book, putting on a CD and dancing, going outside for some exercise or going shopping. We also think that doing volunteer work will take your mind off your mood while helping other people.

You might want to tutor younger children, serve food in a soup kitchen, or become part of a crisis hot line that takes calls from teen-agers who are having problems.

For the name of places where you might participate, check with a counselor at school, your local hospital's volunteer office or with the head of your place of worship.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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