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School Stresses Can Trigger Mood Disorders
Published November 2009
Now that the first few months of the school year are over, many parents are breathing a sigh of relief. But just because the household has settled into a routine, it doesn’t mean there’s smooth sailing until next summer, UC Health psychiatry specialists warn.
“This is the time when we start seeing the stress of school have its full effect,” says Melissa DelBello, MD, a UC Health psychiatrist and co-director of the division of bipolar disorders research at UC.
Once school kicks into full gear, she says, mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression can start to manifest themselves—and parents need to be on the lookout for them in their children.
DelBello points out that there’s a difference between normal teenage behavior and a mood disorder that could be helped with successful treatment.
“If adolescents are not functioning in their role of going to school and achieving what they need to in school or with their peers or with their family, that’s when it becomes a problem,” she says.
The first step in treatment, DelBello says, is a comprehensive diagnostic assessment. Afterward, treatment, such as psychotherapy or medication, or a combination of the two, can be prescribed.
“Certainly, many children and adolescents can be irritable or moody,” DelBello says. “But when in doubt, trust your instincts—and don’t hesitate to seek help.”