You may know firsthand that moodiness and irritability are trademarks of the preteen years. But if your child's mood persists and her sleep, appetite, or attention span is different than usual, she could be depressed or have an anxiety disorder, says Harold Koplewicz, M.D., director of the New York University Child Study Center.
What to look out for:
* She stays irritable or sad for more than two weeks
* She doesn't want to get up for school or takes a nap once she's home
* She's eating more (or less) than usual
* She's not interested in being with her friends
Call your child's pediatrician if you notice any of these symptoms. And don't blame yourself: Your child's diagnosis has absolutely nothing to do with your mothering skills. Says Dr. Koplewicz, "We can't change our kids' brain chemistry or genetic disposition, but we can get them the help they need."