Mood Swings in Children

Youngsters in the age gathering of 5 to 6 years can encounter state of mind swings, however it is an uncommon event. In any case, when your tyke edges towards puberty, serious type of emotional episodes can happen, which is significantly more or like what happens in grown-ups. It has been accounted for that 1.6% young people have experienced serious emotional episodes.

As children experience and express differently from adults, it often becomes difficult to label mood swings as a disorder. Mood swings are common and natural; being happy, angry or even confused is all a part of growing up. However, when these disturbances in the mood alternate from mania to depression, and in rare cases, it comes with unexplained violent behavior, it becomes a cause for worry.


ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common mental disorders seen in children. The disorder makes it very difficult for the child to perform well in school, be attentive, follow instructions, or finish tasks by himself.

» Causes
Genetic factors
Environmental factors
Brain injury
Excessive consumption of sugar or food additives

» Symptoms
Trouble sitting still
Inability to pay attention
Constant fidgeting
Inability to understand others’ needs
Easy distraction

» Treatment
Medications like methylphenidate or amphetamines
Education and training
Alcohol-related Neurodevelopmental Disorder

Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) is another reason why your child must be experiencing mood swings. It can cause extreme mood swings in children, along with other learning and intellectual disabilities.

» Causes
This disorder is caused if the mother had consumed alcohol during her pregnancy.

» Symptoms
Difficulty with reasoning and thinking
Inability to express clearly
Difficulty with memorizing things
Have to be taught the same thing repetitively

» Treatment
Medications like stimulants, antidepressants, neuroleptics, and antianxiety drugs
Behavioral and education therapy
Parent training
Alternative medicine

OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is a very commonly seen disorder. However, when severe, it can start interfering with the child’s ability to do day-to-day activities.

» Causes
Brain disorders
Decreased level of serotonin
Stressful life events
Improper parenting
Self-esteem issues

» Symptoms
Fear of contamination
Fear of being embarrassed
Need for perfection and order

Repetitive behavior such as washing hands, checking door knobs, arranging things in a certain way, counting numbers, etc.

» Treatment
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is a bracket term used for mental disorders that cause anxiety, nervousness, and fear. It includes generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, separation anxiety, situational anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

» Causes
Stressful life events
Improper upbringing
Violent atmosphere

» Symptoms
Excessive worry
Trouble concentrating
Shortness of breath
Inability to stay calm
Heart palpitations

» Treatment
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy
Medications like SSRIs and antidepressants
Bipolar Disorder

Sudden behavior change and/or prolonged mood swings in kids is termed as childhood-onset bipolar disorder (COBPD) medically. This condition is characterized by extreme ‘high’ and ‘low’ child behavior. These rapid mood swings can be easily experienced many times within a day in a cyclical fashion.

» Causes
Over-responsive sensory stimulator
Chemical imbalance in the brain (especially in the neurotransmitters that regulate endorphins)
Life-changing experience
Family history of mood disorders
Family history of alcoholism

» Symptoms
Extreme moods swings (behavioral cycle is usually a low in the mornings followed up with an extreme high level of energy in the evening)
Passive and/or violent behavior
Sleep disturbances
Persistent sadness
Fidgety nature
Trouble controlling anger
High levels of anxiety

» Treatment
Mood stabilizers
Anticonvulsant medications
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Talk therapy
Family-focused therapy
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Other Reasons

One should keep in mind that not all mood swings are related to a disorder. Sometimes, there are many extreme factors at play too. The kind of environment that the child is raised in is also vital to his/her mental health. Children need adequate nutrition in their growing years, any deficiency of which can lead to an imbalance or reduction in energy levels. This generally leads to a lack of enthusiasm in them because of lack of energy or lack of physical health. An unappealing physical appearance or characteristics too, can cause depression in children, leading to sudden mood swings, especially in the company of others. Some children also inherit mood disorders or anxiety from their parents.

Disturbed sleep patterns are also seen as a reason for mood swings. Inadequate sleep or excess sleep, both makes young children irritable and lethargic. A child’s mental and emotional health has a direct impact on the way he/she thinks and reacts. Unhappy surroundings, difficult parents, or a difficult learning environment at school, all make a child prone to mood swings.

As a parent or a caretaker, you know your children better. However, it is best to get a diagnosis through a specialist. Mood disorders affect each child differently; hence, no treatment can be the same. An important point to bear in mind is that it is not a disease, and therefore, it has no conventional cure―only management. Alternative treatments like therapy combined with depression and anxiety medication depends upon the frequency, intensity, duration of a child’s symptoms, and response to treatment.