Its no wonder teens are moody. Think of it as a perfect storm of physical, social, biological and hormonal changes, which often converge right around the time they are trying to fit in during the transition to a new middle or high school.
Their bodies are starting to change and develop as they move through puberty, which can sometimes lead to insecurities about their body image, explains Monica Barnes-Durity, MD, a family medicine physician at Duke Primary Care in Morrisville. “They are also being exposed to many visual cues from the media and their peers. The different social factors can influence how adolescents think they should look, feel and talk.”
At the same time, the teenage brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for emotion, impulsivity, rational thought and behavior, remains underdeveloped, explains Richard Chung, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist with Duke Health. As a result, they are less likely to control their impulses – which notoriously get teens in trouble – their rational thoughts, and their emotional outbursts.
While the hormonal imbalance associated with puberty can also lead to teens’ emotional rollercoasters, new research indicates another hormone, called THP, may also be to blame. The brain-producing TSH calms adults, but research shows it actually increases anxiety in teens, which can – you guessed it - result in episodes of moodiness.