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Question:

My 16-year old daughter can be fine and then suddenly get upset for anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour before returning to normal. She also gained 18 pounds in 2 months, perhaps because a holistic doctor prescribed 2,400 – 3,6000 mgs of fish oil daily for mood swings. Are her moods and weigh gain related to hormones or her refusal to eat enough protein or something else? Is there a blood test or hormone test that you would recommend?

Answered by: Anne Marie Albano

Any number of reasons may account for adolescent moodiness and weight gain . . . these may include stress due to peer relationships, academic issues and impending graduation; physical changes accompanying the resolution of puberty, metabolic or other physical reasons that are not readily apparent; family conflict; poor diet; and exercise habits, to name a few. Among the mental health concerns to explore are whether your daughter is experiencing a depression or mood disorder, eating disorder, substance abuse, trauma, or an anxiety disorder, and if so, you then need to know how best to help her. The very first step is to have a comprehensive evaluation with her primary care physician, followed by an evaluation with an adolescent psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. The recommended evaluations include the physical exam and blood work to be determined and conducted by a medical doctor, followed by a diagnostic interview and associated evaluation by a mental health professional. In addition to evaluating her emotional status, these clinicians will want to know your daughter’s history and current status in school, including her aspirations and future plans, and the extent and quality of her peer and family relationships. There is not one test to answer your question but rather, your daughter sounds to be in need of a comprehensive physical and mental health evaluation conducted by trained and highly experienced professionals.