Earlier age of menarche is believed to confer greater vulnerability to depressive symptoms via increased reactivity to stressors associated with adolescence. In this longitudinal study, we measured depressive symptoms and salivary cortisol levels in 198 boys and 142 girls between the ages of 11 and 13 tested four times during Grade 7 as they transitioned from elementary school to secondary school as per Quebec's education system. Results showed that girls who had already reached menarche before starting secondary school had significantly higher depressive symptoms and salivary cortisol levels across the school year in comparison to girls who had not reached menarche, who in turn presented higher depressive scores than boys. When we divided menarcheal girls as a function of menarcheal timing in subanalyses, we found that girls with early menarche presented consistently elevated depressive symptoms across the school year while girls with on-time menarche presented transient depressive symptoms but no differences in salivary cortisol levels. Collectively, these results show that early menarche is associated with high depressive symptoms and cortisol levels in adolescent girls. This developmental milestone may render girls more vulnerable to environmental stressors and therefore represents a critical period to intervene to promote mental health.