Common Signs of Depression in Women

How depression might look different in women and what to do if you're depressed.

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Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in everyday life. It does not discriminate against gender, background, or age—anyone can experience both short (acute) and long-term (chronic) depression.

Feeling depressed can impact your overall quality of life and ability to get through the day, so identifying it and getting help is imperative. Below we’re exploring the ways in which signs of depression may look a bit different in women. 

Depression in Women 

While there are some consistent signs of depression across every gender and age—including low mood and loss of motivation—depression looks different from person to person. That said, research tells us that there are some key differences in relation to how depression presents—and how often it occurs—in women. 

“Women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with depressive symptoms than others,” says Audrey Connell, MA, LPC. “Factors to take into consideration are hormonal changes, biology, culture, external stressors, and life circumstances.”

Depression can also be triggered due to hormonal shifts surrounding the menstrual cycle, birth control, pregnancy, and menopause.

Common Signs of Depression in Women

Depression varies from person to person in terms of length, severity, cause, and presentation. Generally speaking, Connell says these are some of the common signs of depression in women: 

  • Persistent low mood: This might feel like an undercurrent of sadness or hopelessness that sticks with you for the better part of the day. These feelings are often hard to push through.  
  • Lack of motivation: Feeling unmotivated can prevent you from doing everyday tasks ranging from getting out of bed to showering to tending to housework to going to work. 
  • Reduced interest in pleasure: Things that once brought you a lot of joy, excitement, or happiness no longer appeal to you. 
  • Social withdrawal: You find yourself pulling away from others, including close friends, family, your partner, or children. 
  • Exhaustion: You may experience fatigue or loss of energy with or without changes in sleep patterns, such as restlessness or a desire to sleep more.
  • Poor self-esteem: Depression can affect the way you view yourself. You might experience feelings of excessive guilt or worthlessness
  • Suicidal ideation: This isn’t always experienced with depression but it can occur. This may present as recurrent thoughts of death, overwhelming feelings that life would be better off without you in it, or that life is not worth living.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Men can also experience the above symptoms and often do. “However, men have reported a higher tendency than women to experience anger, agitation, and irritability as the primary symptom, which can be overlooked as society tends to focus on sadness as the primary symptom,” Connell says. 

What to Do If You Are Depressed 

The internet has made information about mental health conditions, including depression, much more accessible. However, it’s important to seek professional intervention versus self-diagnosis to ensure you’re led down an appropriate treatment path. A professional can also help identify any co-conditions that haven’t yet been brought to light. 

You can reach out to your established care provider—such as a primary care doctor—or a mental health therapist who can provide ongoing support and tailored treatment options. If you don’t have a primary doctor or access to a therapist, your insurance company may be able to connect you. There are also online therapy options that provide digital care. 

Speaking with a mental health professional to explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—and in some cases taking medication or supplements to help manage systems—can dramatically help. That said, the path toward recovering from depression is a holistic one. 

Ways to Alleviate Depression Symptoms

Here are some things you can try to bring yourself some relief from depressive symptoms:

  • Exercise: The antidepressant effects of exercise are well-established. A study published in Current Sports Medicine Reports concluded that exercise can be used to acutely manage symptoms of depression.
  • Support groups: Surround yourself with others who can relate to you via online and in-person support networks.
  • Friends and family: A study published in General Hospital Psychiatry found that peer support interventions play a key role in reducing signs of depression.

“The most effective treatments are ones that address all aspects of an individual: physical, mental, spiritual and social,” says Connell. “Examples of this may be talk therapy, nutrition, implementing movement and exercise, meditation and breathing, medications, and/or supplements.” 

A Word From Verywell 

Chronic depression can wreak havoc on our lives. Recognizing that you need help and asking for it shows strength and vulnerability. Know that you aren't alone, that you can find help, and that even the smallest steps can lead to great changes.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Albert PR. Why is depression more prevalent in women?J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2015;40(4):219-221. doi:10.1503/jpn.150205

  2. Schuch FB, Stubbs B. The Role of Exercise in Preventing and Treating DepressionCurr Sports Med Rep. 2019;18(8):299-304. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000620

  3. Pfeiffer PN, Heisler M, Piette JD, Rogers MAM, Valenstein M. Efficacy of peer support interventions for depression: A meta-analysis. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2011; 33(1):29–36.

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.