Mood Disorders in Children

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Duke behavioral health specialists treat the full spectrum of mood disorders in children and adolescents including: depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

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Signs of Mood Disorders

Mood difficulties can occur at any age. Early recognition and treatment is important. Mood changes can be triggered by a range of factors, including stress, grief, significant life changes, and illness. Signs of mood difficulties may include:
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or irritability
  • Increased temper outbursts
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Loss of interest in activities or isolating from friends and family 
  • Problems in school or difficulties in relationships 
Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Seek Professional Help

If these difficulties are getting in the way of your child’s enjoyment of life, school performance, or social relationships, we can work with your family on strategies to manage these concerns. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are effective treatments for mood disorders and related concerns. Accurate diagnosis helps us recommend the most effective tools for improving your child’s and your family’s quality of life. In addition to talking with you and your child about their experiences, we may ask for input from family, teachers, or others who spend significant time with your child.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps your child develop coping strategies and healthy patterns of thought and behavior. CBT can be delivered in individual therapy sessions or in group therapy. Therapy generally requires a series of weekly sessions with a Duke behavioral health provider who specializes in mood disorders. We involve parents and caregivers in your child’s treatment and may ask you to participate in family sessions to support your child’s progress.


Medication may help address mood disorder symptoms and is sometimes used in conjunction with other therapy.

Why Choose Duke

Customized Care Plan
Our team of pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses works together to create a customized care plan. Anxiety, ADHD, and substance abuse may co-occur with mood disorders. Our team will work with you to address all of your child’s unique needs.

Sensitive Care for Children with Chronic Physical Illnesses
For children who have serious or chronic physical illnesses, we have teams of specialists both in the hospital and in our outpatient clinics who are sensitive to the strain these illnesses can cause. They can help your child overcome mood disturbances related to their illness and medical treatment.