26 answers

Pre-teen Daughter's Sadness

Hi Moms. I'm seeking help/advice for my pre-teen daughter who has episodes of unexplained sadness. I've noticed this over the past few months (probably since Jan) that every now and then she is sad and cries. When I talk to her about it she says she can't explain/don't know why she's sad. I think it may be hormonal...she is 12 y.o. and haven't yet started her period. It usually pass after a couple of days although she's never cried as often as she has over the past day or two. I've tried to remember if I had this sadness before I started my period years ago, however, I don't remember being this sad. I've asked all of the questions re. other things that may be causing her to be sad but again she says she doesn't know why she's sad. Any advice to help her thru this? Any other moms dealt w/this before?
Thank you for any feedback.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Moms.......I can't thank you enough for the great advice I've received. I have already started tracking what's going on with her when she seems sad and will be purchasing some of the materials suggested and sharing alone time, etc. In addition, I am encouraged to know others have successfully made it thru periods like this and others are like me walking our way thru it.

God Bless each of you. He has already blessed us by sending such thoughtful moms!

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Take her to the doctor. I have major depressive episodes that started when I was 11. Had I been diagnosed, I don't think I would have had the breakdown I had in college - which is what ultimately led to my diagnosis.

Cognitive behavioral therapy with or without medication makes a world of difference.


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If it continues you may want to see a Dr. to see if her physycal body is o.k., but I remember when I was about to start my period I was very emotional, & I didn't know why, but it stopped when I started my period.

I haven't dealt with any of this with my 14 yr old daughter so I don't think it's normal but I do have a question... have you recently put her on singulair or any other medicine? I'm asking because when my son (9) was put on singulair a couple of years ago he went through the exact same thing. He cried all the time, didn't want to get out of bed, and was always sad. When I finally realized it started when he started the medication I immidiately took him off of it and within a week he was back to his normal happy go lucky, extremely active kid.

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I was this way off and on throughout my teenage years. Someone could just look at me and I'd start bawling. In college I finally decided I had to be suffering from depression, so I began going to counseling and eventually taking medication. In my opinion, it may be chemical imbalances due to the upcoming hormonal changes corresponding to getting her period. You should definitely speak to your doctor. I realize she is young, and you don't want her taking unneccesary medication, but you also don't want her suffering if it can be helped. Thank you so much for being such a caring mother and believing her when she says she doesn't know why she's sad. She really doesn't. Give her lots of hugs.

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Take her to the doctor, NOW!

Her pediatrician or your gyn. May need a referral to specialist. But, please don't put this off! She needs help now! Before she hits the drugs or starts cutting herself or something.

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I was just like that when I was her age. I, just like Jessica, went to a counselor and ended up on meds. Mine turned out to be anxiety. I'm still a very nervous person. I would take her to her pediatrician they might recommend a neurologist or counselor. I think the pre-teen years are hard for everyone. Hang in there.

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As someone who has suffered from depression I would take her to the doctor to get her checked out. You are welcome to email me if you want to talk ____@____.com

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Yes, take her to the doctor. When I had severe PPD I found out that if you suffer such episodes before/during your cycle, it is a sign that you will have depression later on. I was a VERY emotional child when I was PMSing..I started my period at age 10 and was the one kid in the entire grade picked on because of my "maturity".

It is a shame that depression hits so young these days, but look at what this young generation is going though these days.

Praying for you and your daughter,

1 mom found this helpful

Take her to the doctor. I have major depressive episodes that started when I was 11. Had I been diagnosed, I don't think I would have had the breakdown I had in college - which is what ultimately led to my diagnosis.

Cognitive behavioral therapy with or without medication makes a world of difference.


1 mom found this helpful

This is probably normal but there are so many things it could be. My daughter and I found a great doctor's office off Preston near the Plano Parkway. It is called Girls to Women and they are very helpful with the transition. The doctors are pediatricians and they have counselors they can refer you to if you think that might help. The have programs and classes your daughter can attend to help her know her feelings are normal and build her self-esteem. The website is: http://www.gtw-health.com. Look it over. I just wish I had found it earlier for my daughter who is now 18. Good luck it is a hard time for some girls!

Hi Mary she is probally going through a chemical imbalance and I wouldnt hurry her to the doctor just yet. Maybe try distracting her a little bit right now its summer and she may just have too much down time and really able to dwell in her sadness brought on by pms. Maybe when you notice the episode arise and she "doesnt know why" you can get her mind off of it by doing something active that you both enjoy. If the problem becomes severe, mood swings and deepened sadness then I would go see a doctor.

I would not over-react to this because it sounds hormonal. The last thing I would want to do would be to let my 13 yr old daughter feel like I believe something is wrong with her. My daughter is very sensitive and it would hurt her if she thought I was thinking she is not normal. I embrace my daughter and she knows I have her back no matter what and I will do whatever needed to help her.

She needs a lot of support from you because of the changes going on with her right now. She may have so much on her mind about school, friends, etc. Is she already in middle school? Middle school is a huge scary change and she is approaching puberty/body changes going on as well.

I do agree that seeing her pedi might help her. My daughter loves her pedi Dr. Piga and her daughter Dr. Piga (Dr.. Capote who works with them is also great) They are SO good to sit and talk with her. It helps us to have another person for daughter to talk to. You know how girls get.....mom can say the sky is blue and she will disagree with mom yet someone else she respects can say it and it is a miracle.

I think there is an off chance it is some imbalance with hormones but more than likely it is her normal phase of becoming a young woman. Every girl goes through it differently.

Bless you for doing your best to be there for her and help her. You sound like a great mom.


Hi Mary,
I have a preteen (10 yr old girl). She is the same way... much of it is hormones. There are a lot of changes going on during these years and she probably doesn't know how to take it all in. I bought my daughter this great book called "The Care and Keeping of You," by American Girl. I found it at Barnes and Nobles and it has everything from head to toe! It even discusses the hormonal/moody feelings and why they are happening. By giving her the book, it's allowed her to read about the things she has questions about and if she needs more information, she knows she can come to me or another trusted adult.
I think keeping track of her sad periods is also a good way to go. I have learned through some of my classes that food allergies can have symptoms very similar to depression. I would keep record of the things she eats and the period of days... I wouldn't worry just yet. If she seems to be slipping more into herself, then definitely take her to the doctor.
Also, if there is a responsible teen from church, this may be a great opportunity for you to get them together. She may not feel comfortable asking you because we moms don't know what we're talking about or what they're going through...
Best wishes and you are a wonderful mom!

In my opinion, you are right on target, Mom. You've asked all the right questions and that's the most you can do besides giving her lots of loving hugs. You need to subtly document these episodes and look for a pattern that will help you know when to expect these periods of despair.

In the meantime, encourage her to read books for girls her age...Judy Bloom's books were the craze when my daughters were this age and going through these difficult changes. She's fluctuating between wanting to stay a little girl and becoming a young woman. She doesn't even realize what's going on.

Try not to make an issue of it. You want her adjustment to be a healthy one. Some doctors offer a pill for everything these days and I'd hesitate to treat something so natural with chemicals at the beginning. There is nothing wrong with her going through this, we all did it to some degree.

You might want to share with her the feelings you had at this time in your life and help her to realize it's the most natural thing in the world. Help her to understand that it is actually a time of celebration when her periods begin. That it's sometimes inconvenient but doesn't last long. Don't give her any reason to feel it's a illness or an excuse for inconsiderate behavior. But that the sadness is to be expected at times.

Most importantly, once she begins having periods, help her remember that "...this, too, shall pass"...and it will each month...and then later in life. I'm sure there's lots of good reading material out there for both of you. You are her best friend, whether she realizes it or not. You want her to have the best information.


I would not get alarmed if sadness is the only sign and symptom. I remember one of my daughters telling me she wanted to cry or cry if she heard one of those slow/melancholic songs, just like that out of the blue. When she would tell me that she felt like crying I usually told her to go ahead and I will hold her and scratch her back of just hold her hand.
I noticed that she would take a short nap and then be on her way. It helps when you are there by their side talking about the possibilities of being sad, but she usually said she wasn't sure and didn't know why.
Please keep an open communication with your child. Do not take it personally when they rather talk to someone else, like an auntie or a therapist. This daughter I told you about was diagnosed several years later with severe depression, we caught it so quick we had a wonderful prognosis and my child is doing fine with cognitive therapy and a mild anti-depressent. She had a quimical inbalance, nothing to be scare about...in my daughter's case medical supervision was appropiate.

My prayer go to the LORD for you and yours!

I agree with Julie.

Take her to the doctor. Unless you have suffered from Post-Partum Depression .... and I did, you can't understand how weird, awful and uncontrollable it is and I used to get sad before periods. And no one told me about PPD so when it hit me, I thought I was crazy and would not talk to anyone. It was scary.

Hopefully, you'll go to the doc and he'll say it's normal-sad and not pre-cursor of PPD-sad. She's probably hormonally imbalanced right now, and exercise, diet and supplements might be the answer... but let the doctor tell you.

If it is bad enough that you're asking us mamasourcers, then you should take her to the doc.

Did you know that our milk and meat have hormones pumped into them? You may find to try organic products or I also know Braums milk and beef don't have the hormones. I would get her into a good doctor that understands hormones and pre-teen girls. Saliva testing is what doctors are using to test our hormones and how they fluctuate during the day. Even though she hasn't started her period doesn't mean that her body isn't doing a yo yo. Keep the lines of communication open but do get her checked physically and if AOK then get her into a counselor that specializes in young girls. A.

My 11 year old daughter is going thru the same thing. Everything you've said your daughter is going thru. I'm so stressed over this that it makes me so sad that I feel that I can't help her. Any advice is needed please.

Try giving her Omega 3 Fish Oil, like 3000mg a day. There are numerous studies that show it is effective at stabilizing mood, and its all natural. I call them my 'happy pills' and notice a difference if I run out.

Hello Mary,

I can remember being this emotional just months before my first period. I would have these episodes once a month for about 6 or 7 months before I had that first period. I had four brothers that would taunt me if they thought they could get away with it but my wonderful mother recognized they symtoms and kept them at bay. She would do special things for me during these couple of days like take me mall shopping (which was a big deal forty years ago) or take me for french fries at my favorite place, just her and I so that I could just feel good about myself. Try getting your daughter out and away from the normal routine, maybe a little trip to an Arboretum, a movie, something that just the two of you can share for a while.

Hi Mary. I have 2 teen daughters that both went through some sort of emotional state. My youngest who is now 16 still does. You just have to talk with her (even if she doesnt want to) and listen to her. NEVER lose your cool. They can be so hard to read but something as small as just walking up to them at random times and just hugging them and telling them you love them - Or taking her for a pedicure or movie with just you and her. I encourage you to maybe have one day that is just for you and her. My daughter has now gotten to the point when she is upset about something - she asks me to pray for her. I am not a religious nut by any means but do think that having God in your life is awesome. Sometimes just sitting with them and letting them know that if they ever just feel so sad and need someone to talk to - let her know that God is right there and listening and that if she just talks with him - HE will be there and guide her through any sadness she may have. She definitely needs your support and encouragement right now. Hope this helps and take care!

I haven't dealt with any of this with my 14 yr old daughter so I don't think it's normal but I do have a question... have you recently put her on singulair or any other medicine? I'm asking because when my son (9) was put on singulair a couple of years ago he went through the exact same thing. He cried all the time, didn't want to get out of bed, and was always sad. When I finally realized it started when he started the medication I immidiately took him off of it and within a week he was back to his normal happy go lucky, extremely active kid.

If she's starting to have such bad symptoms at that time of the month now she could be in for a lifetime of it! Call or email Dr. Donna Smith (Advanced Clinical Nutrition). She could put her on some nutritional therapies that would take care of this permanently. You can email Dr. Smith at ____@____.com or call ###-###-####. I've been seeing her for about a year now. I don't have migraines anymore and she helped me avoid having to have a root canal! Plus she's helping a friend of mine avoid knee surgery with just nutritional therapy. She has a client now who's been diagnosed as bipolar but she and Dr. Smith both believe it's just hormonal imbalance so she's going to put her on a program. Please call her. I promise you won't regret it! And you'll save your daughter YEARS or emotional turmoil. Hormonal imbalances can wreck havoc!

Both of my daughters went through this to some degree and it was very close to the onset of menstruation, within a few months. My younger daughter seemed to have more difficulty though and ended up with severe pre-menstrual depression, anxiety and cramps and it continues to be a problem if she doesn't stay on a form of birth control pill. It's not too early to discuss this with her (and of course she has no idea why she's feeling the way she does, it's new to her and very difficult for her)and her physician if she likes/trusts him or her and please try to keep the communication open with her....more than anything she needs compassion....poor little thing. It seems like girls are going into puberty younger and younger. These will be difficult years for you both and I can only say pray and keep praying and let her know you're there for her, no matter what. Best of luck.

If it continues you may want to see a Dr. to see if her physycal body is o.k., but I remember when I was about to start my period I was very emotional, & I didn't know why, but it stopped when I started my period.

I would have her seen as soon as possible. There have been some interesting studies that have shown children in their preteens suffer from depression at an alarming rate. This is the age where acceptance is so important and little things set off different emotions.

At the same token it could be hormones. I have a soon to be 10 year old daughter who cries one moment and explodes thw next. Early PMS(we look for her to start by the end of this year-I started at 9 1/2) is part of her problem but she is also look for acceptance at school and home.

Patience and open communication is the key. Even if she does not want to talk, engage her. Let her know that she is important to your family. Talk to her friends and make sure that her depression has not caused problems with them.

Love will conquer this!!!

I was sad alot when I was a teen. Sometimes it was related to my cycle but to be honest I think I was depressed. It wasn't until after my daughter was born and I was diagnosed with Post Partum depression that I started on an antidepressant. It was the best thing that I could have ever done! I often wonder if my mom had talked to me or taken me to a doctor if I would have been better. I'm not sure. I know that depression runs in families. I guess what I'm trying to say is take her to the doctor. Tell her that you're worried about her being so sad all of the time and that if she's not comfortable talking to you maybe she'd rather talk to the doctor. Remind her that anything she does say to the doctor is between them and the doctor doesn't have to tell you. obviously if the doctor thinks that she's at risk for harming herself or others then you will be told. I would also just try to keep an open line of communication and hopefully she'll feel comfortable talking to you or another adult. I know that you don't know me, and neither does your daughter but if she wants to talk to me then I'm more than happy to. I am a pedi RN and am quite comfortable talking with kids. PM if you need anything

my sister in law had to get on birth control to balance out her hormonal episodes. it was very young too, like around 13 yrs i believe.

Sheesh, I am now older than 35 and have tearful days during the "emotional" time during my cycle. I cry because I had a bad dream or they didn't have my kind of bread at the store. I cry at sad songs. Bite my hubby's head off for breathing and then cry and apologize. Then about a week later I am fine.
I would write down in a daily log and mark the days on the calendar. You will get a more clear picture with that. I would also take down water, meals, acitities, friends, exercise, big changes, family visits, etc. to see about a link. After a few more months, you may see a pattern, and can take action accordingly.
I think that just by noticing you are doing an awesome job. I would be careful to put her on meds until you can get a bigger picture. She is truly going through an awful lot at her age. Developing bodies, changing grades, peer pressure, hormones, boys etc. I think that asking questions and being open to exploring her feelings is great. Heck, I have a boy that is 13 and extremely moody. I have found that alone time with me, away from his brothers works wonders. It keeps us in touch and lets him deflate with out any bickering with his brothers. And sometimes he cries from all these "things" as he calls them. He just gets frustrated, and doesn't always know what to do. SO, we go to starbucks, spend a little quiet time and fix the world, answer questions, talk about issues, friends, problems, etc. And ressure him that I am here for thick and thin. And to come any time he needs help, or alone time, talking etc. Then he feels better and able to cope. for about a month, and then we have growing pains again and then we go for ice cream and talk, then next month do the whole process over again. we have had some very interesting conversations about peer pressure, bossiness, responsability, college, pre-marital sex etc. some very profound things come out of his brain and mouth.
i would watch her. journal everything down to bowel movements if you have to. as long as she is not suidical or into hurting herself and others.
then if it doesn't get better then I would go talk to the doctor.
They are also our for school and she will probably be going into another shcool in her next grade level and she is probably sad and anxious and excited all at the same time.
I think that you are doing great. Very observant mom.
Good luck,
L., Mom to 3 boys

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