Is She Depressed or Just Moody?

by Dec 12, 2023Her Moods & Mind

Those moods. As a parent, you watch them morph as your daughter cartwheels into adolescence and then slams the door in your face. 

Sometimes she’s her “usual” self. 😊 Sometimes she’s so …  👹 🐍 🥊 🎭 🛸 🗯 🤷🏾‍♀️.

There’s no doubt it worries you. We hear it all the time, “Is she just moody or could it be depression?”

YES to both. 

✅ Yes, she’s moody; bigger moods and rapid emotional surges 🎢 are a normal part of adolescent brain development (not just because of hormones!). I’ll be talking about that in an upcoming blog. She needs to learn how to manage her difficult emotions.

✅ Yes, it could be depression because after puberty, depression rates soar, especially for girls; we need to be vigilant and do what we can to prevent or help depression, right? 

Cue: Self Care. 

I’m not talking about cliche “treat yourself” indulgences.💅🏼🛍 True self care is taking the time to do the things that make us our best selves —  like human connections, healthy habits, taking time to reflect and plan. Self care is a powerful tool in managing moods, rising out of a mild depression, and maintaining health on a holistic level. 

In this tip Dr. Trish gives you 5 concrete and actionable ways to counter depression by guiding her toward self care. Nothing’s a quick fix, but establishing these habits can support her health long term. 

At the same time, understand the warning signs of depression because for some girls, there is no amount of self care that can prevent it or fix it.

So, back to the question all parents seem to ask at some point:

Is she just moody, or is she depressed?

Moody – grumpy, irritable, angry, crying, complaining – you know what “moody” looks like. A “depressed mood” can be part of that. If it’s normal adolescent moodiness, the “bad mood” doesn’t last long, and there are some “good moods” thrown in as well. If something fun comes along, she’s up for it. She’ll get up, get out, laugh, and participate in the stuff she usually likes to participate in. 

Depressed – can look a lot like moody, but it persists for more than a couple of weeks and begins to creep into other parts of her life to affect her sleep, activities, relationships, school work, energy level, and even her physical health. 

To add confusion, teens can be savvy about trying to get better on their own, so they may seek activities to “lift their mood.” That can look like spending more time with friends, thrill seeking, sexual behaviors, substance use. Contrary to the stereotype, a depressed teen isn’t always alone. Instead, she can actually look desperate for social connection and attention. For girls, in particular, they often seek other depressed peers and reinforce each other’s problems, sometimes intensifying the symptoms.

If your daughter is clearly having some normal adolescent moodiness, we feel you. We recommend you practice your deep breathing, calm responses, and maintaining your sense of humor. 

If you’re not sure her moods fall within the “normal” category, or if she has any other symptoms of depression, speak with her doctor or a counselor right away. 

There are many ways to successfully treat depression through talking therapy, medications, or both. With treatment, she can expect to feel better in a few weeks to months. Without treatment, depression is likely to worsen, last longer, and recur later in life. 

Remember that depression is a medical diagnosis that causes changes in the brain structure and chemistry. It is neither a weakness nor a parenting failure. 

Never ever hesitate to seek help.



Did you know Girlology has grade-by-grade playlists listing on-demand video and downloadable content to support her and you through the entire journey? Learn More 

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