Pediatric Mood Disorders

Different than being in a bad mood or having a bad day, a mood disorder is marked by intensely negative feelings and thoughts that don’t go away on their own. If your child is suffering from a mood disorder, we have an expert team, at Children's Health℠, of child psychologists and child psychiatrists who can help your child get the treatment they need.

What are Pediatric Mood Disorders?

“Mood disorders” is a broad term for a variety of mental health problems. Ranging from ongoing sadness or depression to moving between intense depression and happiness, mood disorders are feelings or states of mind that negatively affect your child. With a mood disorder, every negative feeling your child has is amplified. This can leave your child feeling sad and alone.

What are the different types of Pediatric Mood Disorders?

There are many different types of mood disorders. They include:


A medical illness, depression can negatively affect how your child acts, thinks and feels. The symptoms they experience – social withdrawal, irritability and long-term sadness – can negatively affect their relationships with family, friends and teachers. Left untreated, depression can significantly affect your child’s appetite, sleeping patterns and physical activity.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where children typically have periods of high energy and hyperactivity, followed by periods of sadness and depression.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD)

If your child suffers from this condition, they might be extremely angry, upset and frequently throw temper tantrums.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Mood Disorders?

Depending on the type of mood disorder your child is diagnosed with, they might show the following signs and symptoms:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness, despair, sadness, helplessness or guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts (Get help right away if you notice this with your child.)
  • Not being able to sleep
  • A significant drop in energy
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Lack of interest in their favorite physical activities or hobbies
  • Difficulty connecting with family, friends and teachers
  • Not being able to focus or make decisions
  • Frequent temper tantrums or irritability
  • Consistently suffering from fatigue, stomachaches and headaches
  • Terrified of rejection and failure
  • Participating in rebellious or high-risk behaviors
  • Running away or threatening to run away from home
  • Extreme bursts of energy, marked by non-stop thoughts and fast speech

How are Pediatric Mood Disorders diagnosed?

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with their pediatrician for an initial screening. During the screening, your pediatrician will review your family history, ask more questions about their symptoms and find out if any major life changes are causing the mood disorder. Your pediatrician may be able to treat your child’s depression, or they may refer you to a child psychiatrist or other mental health professional for an assessment and care.

What causes Pediatric Mood Disorders?

It isn’t clear exactly what causes mood disorders. We do know that several things can increase the risk of a mood disorder. They can include:

  • A family history of mood disorders
  • Peer pressure
  • Chronic illness
  • Family changes (such as a divorce), a death of a loved one or other loss

How are Pediatric Mood Disorders treated?

We offer a variety of innovative treatment options and care plans for your child’s type of mood disorder. Our services include:

Depression Clinic

Children with depressive symptoms are seen by professionals in our Depression Clinic on an outpatient basis. Experts at Children’s Health℠ can offer the best possible treatments for your child. Treatments include individual, family and group therapy. We can also prescribe medication, when needed. If your child is experiencing severe depression, they can get care in our day treatment or inpatient programs.


Medication can improve mood disorders and help children and teenagers feel better. We will talk to you about your child’s symptoms and help you decide whether medication is appropriate. Depending on your child’s needs, we can offer antidepressants, mood stabilizing medications and more.


Medicine alone may not be enough to help your child feel better. That’s why we offer one-on-one counseling services, group therapy, family therapy and much more to help your child cope, understand their struggles and become more resilient.

Pediatric Mood Disorders Doctors and Providers

We have a team of pediatric psychologists, pediatric psychiatrists and therapists who can help your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a mood disorder the same as bipolar disorder?

    “Mood disorders” is a wide-ranging term for a variety of mental health problems, which includes bipolar disorder.

  • Are mood disorders genetic?

    No. However, if family members suffer from a mood disorder, your child is more at risk of having one, too.