Do you ever find yourself getting really irritable for almost no reason? Or suddenly feeling down without knowing why? Going from sadness to anger to joy in a matter of minutes can make many teens feel as though they're losing their grip. But why is the feeling of being on an emotional roller coaster so common among teens? Dealing with constant change and pressure is part of the answer. Maybe you're starting a new school and not able to see old friends as much. Getting good grades or wanting to be better in sports or other activities can be a concern for many teens. It might feel as though there just isn't enough time to do everything. Being a teen means struggling with identity and self-image. Being accepted by friends feels extremely important. Teens also may notice, for the first time, a sense of distance from parents and family. You may feel you want to be on your own and make your own decisions, but it can also seem overwhelming and even a bit lonely at times. As fun and exciting as this time is, it also can be a time of confusion and conflict. It can take a while for teens — and their families — to feel comfortable with the transition from childhood to adulthood. Another important cause for mood swings is biology. When puberty begins, the body starts producing sex hormones. These hormones — estrogen and progesterone in girls and testosterone in guys — cause physical changes in the body. But in some people, they also seem to cause emotional changes — the ups and downs that sometimes feel out of control. Understanding that almost everyone goes through mood swings during their teen years might make them easier to handle. When It's More Than Just a Mood Feeling irritable or short-tempered can be signs of depression. So can feelings of boredom or hopelessness. Many people think of depression as feeling sad, but depression also can bring feelings of moodiness, impatience, anger, or even just not caring. When depression gets in the way of enjoying life or dealing with others, that's a sign you need to do something about it, like talking to a counselor or therapist who can help you deal with it. Also, if you ever feel like hurting yourself, that's more than just a bad mood and you need to tell someone. Taking Control Here are some things you can do that might make those bad moods a bit easier to handle: Recognize you're not alone. Although not every teen experiences mood changes to the same degree, they are common. Catch your breath. Or count to 10. Or do something that lets you settle down for a few moments, especially if you're feeling angry or irritable. Try to look at the situation from the point of view of a wise observer. Talk to people you trust. Friends can help each other by realizing that they're not alone in their feelings. Talking to parents is important, too. Parents can share their own experiences dealing with bad moods. Plus, they'll appreciate it if you try to explain how you feel instead of just slamming a door. Teachers and counselors are often good resources, and a doctor can help sort through questions about development. Keeping feelings inside can make them seem much worse. Exercise. Regular exercise produces more beta-endorphin, a hormone that controls stress and improves mood. Go for a run, play some tennis, ride your bike, or punch a punching bag. Get enough sleep. Though it can be hard to find enough time, getting adequate rest is very important. Being tired can lead to more sadness and irritability. Create. Get involved in some sort of project, like starting a journal or diary, building something out of wood, or starting an art or music piece. Writing can help you organize and express your thoughts and feelings and will make things more manageable. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation; the important thing is just to get your thoughts on paper. Do the same thing with paint, sculpture, music, or other art forms. Put your feelings into your artwork. Cry. There's nothing wrong with crying; in fact, it often makes a person feel better. However, if you find that you are sad, irritable, bored, or hopeless much of the time, or if you just can't seem to shake the blues, you might be depressed and need help from a counselor or doctor. If you're feeling stressed or angry a lot of the time, getting help could be very useful for you. Wait. Just as you can get into a bad mood for what seems like no reason at times, that mood can also pass. If your negative mood sticks around too long, though — or if it's interfering with the way you deal with friends, parents, school, or activities — then you may want to talk to a school counselor, parent, or therapist about what you can do to feel better. Back to Articles Related Articles Choosing Your Mood Choosing your mood means being in control of it instead of feeling like it's controlling you. Here are tips on how to create the right mood to help you succeed at what you're trying to do. Read More Emotional Intelligence Just as IQ is a way of being academically smart, emotional intelligence (EQ) is a way of being people-smart. But unlike IQ, we can work on improving our EQ. Here are some tips. Read More Optimism Optimists see the good in things -- and science has discovered that optimists can do better in life. The good news is, even pessimists can be more optimistic. Find out how. Read More Stress & Coping Center Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations. Read More Dealing With Anger Do you wonder why you fly off the handle so easily sometimes? Do you wish you knew healthier ways to express yourself when you're steamed? Check out this article for help with dealing with anger. Read More Seasonal Affective Disorder Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects some people and appears at the same time each year. Read More 5 Ways to Help Yourself Through Depression It's important to take action against depression - it doesn't just go away on its own. In addition to getting professional help, here are 5 ways to feel better. Read More When Depression Is Severe Severe depression can cloud a person's thinking and lead some people to think that life isn't worth living. But severe depression can be treated. Find out what to do and how to get help in this article for teens. Read More Why Do I Fight With My Parents So Much? Part of being a teen is developing your own identity -one that is separate from the identities of your parents. Read about why you and your parents seem to be constantly at odds. Read More Why Do People Get Depressed? There's no one reason why people get depressed - many different things can play a role. Find out more about the things that can trigger depression. Read More Finding Low-Cost Mental Health Care If you need mental health care but don't think you can afford it, you're not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens. Read More Talking to Your Parents - or Other Adults Whether it's an everyday issue like schoolwork or an emergency situation, these tips can help you improve communications with your parents and other adults. Read More Bipolar Disorder Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders that affect the way a person's brain functions. Find out more about bipolar disorder. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.