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Brain Storm

by Joanna Green

Learn what girlshealth.gov has to say about depression and feeling "blue."

Rain showers my windowpane while I snuggle close to Peanuts, the family cat. She purrs softly as I read. I’m at my favorite part when I hear a “tap-tippity-tap” on my door. I twist the knob so violently that it almost falls off. “Cynthia, leave me alone,” I howl at my younger sister. “But,” she stammers. I slam the door. Then I reach for the closest item to me. I hurl it toward the closed door. It shatters. Cynthia yelps on the other side, and I catch a fleeting glimpse of gray fur as Peanuts dashes under my desk. The smashing sound brings me back to my senses. Suddenly, I feel silly. I look down to inspect the damage—a mountain of gold dust. My shoulders slump, and my eyes well with tears when I realize it’s the vase Cynthia gave me last summer.

I ask myself, “How did this happen?!”

Mood swings can feel overwhelming. Imagine being blindfolded on an elevator and not knowing if you’ll end up on the roof or in the basement. Mood swings work the same way—there are highs and lows.

What causes mood swings?

Body chemicals react in the brain and cause feelings or moods. One part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, controls your reactions to these moods. It’s hard to control your reactions, though, because the prefrontal cortex doesn’t stop growing until you’re in your 20s! It’s like you’re riding a bike with no brakes!

Girl holding umbrella

Are teens moodier than other age groups?

Actually, no. People of all ages experience similar mood swings. The difference is that, because the teen brain isn’t done growing yet, teens often have more intense reactions to mood swings.

How are puberty and mood swings related?

When puberty starts, the body releases large amounts of sex hormones, called estrogen and progesterone, which make you grow new hair, breasts, curves and also cause you to get your period. These hormonal changes can sometimes affect your mood, too.

Can you have “positive” mood swings?

Yes. Mood swings sway from sad to happy and vice versa. It’s OK to feel these emotions because they’re natural and healthy.

What if a mood swing has swung too far?

Bad moods that don’t go away and cause someone to cut herself off from school, activities, and friends may be a sign of depression. If you or a friend shows signs of depression, talk to a trusted adult right away. If you’re down, keep a hotline number (1-800-784-2433 for the Hope Line Network) or friend’s phone number close to you so you’re prepared to call when you need to talk with someone.

 

5 Ways to Balance Your Mood

1. Breathe. Deep breathing and meditation can relax muscles and clear the mind. If you feel like you’re losing control, count to 10 and catch your breath.

2. Create. Some of the greatest poems, novels, and art are written during moody times. Start a journal or prepare a special working place for you to go when you feel your mood-o-meter rise.

3. Cry. Crying is how your body repairs itself by releasing toxins through tears. People cry because they’re happy, sad, tired, excited, or just because their body is telling them to.

4. Exercise. Regular exercise produces a stress-relieving hormone, called beta-endorphins, which help to improve your mood. Walk the dog, ride your bike, or do a dance!

5. Talk. Friends, parents, teachers, counselors, and siblings are great people to talk with if you feel overwhelmed.

 

© 2005 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.

 

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This article is from New Moon  , a magazine written for girls by girls. Here is a complete list of the New Moon articles on girlshealth.gov.

Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
Page last updated October 31, 2013

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