Teenagers and rapid mood swings-Bipolar?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. If a teenager is very angry and hurtful one minute and within 2 minutes is very sweet and complimentary and swings back and forth like that, is it possible to be diagnosed as bipolar or is bi polar more gradual swings?

A. It’s very normal for teenagers to display this kind of behavior. Teenagers at this stage of development are in the process of forming their own identity and it is a very traumatic time. The abrupt mood changes are most likely not from bipolar disorder but are more likely a part of normal human growth. The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are not usually so abrupt and are usually longer in duration. To read more about the stages of development, read Erik Erickson’s psychosocial stages of human development and concentrate on ego-identity Vs role confusion.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Mar 2005

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2005). Teenagers and rapid mood swings-Bipolar?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/03/20/teenagers-and-rapid-mood-swings-bipolar/

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