Many times, when we can’t bring ourselves to get ready for the day when we crawl back into bed in the middle of the afternoon, we wonder to ourselves, “What’s wrong with me? Am I depressed?” When we lie awake in the middle of the night listening to the echoes of that self-critical voice, we think, is it anxiety? We quickly Google “symptoms of depression in women” and hope to find an easy fix.
Although we may think that we’re familiar with the symptoms of depression, we have also become familiar with that this information is not, in and of itself, healing to us. As many women know, depression does not always steal your smile. Instead, we as women have grown especially adept at concealing our emotions and locking our hearts away.
The saddest faces can hide behind smiles so convincing, where even the one wearing it may not realize the truth it conceals. While humans contain the capacity for the full spectrum of emotion, the shame surrounding our expression of them has pushed so many of our complicated feelings into the shadowy corners of our lives. Swallowing our emotions until they escape our awareness doesn’t always lead to a diagnosable condition.
But it can. Depression affects every part of us, body, mind, and soul, although it doesn’t always look like we expect. The symptoms of depression in women freely run as wild as the emotions we’re capable of. So let’s talk about what some of those shadowy symptoms may look or feel like.
Depression doesn’t always scream at you. Like clouds, we experience it in many shapes and intensities as it blocks the connection to our light source and filters the way we see the world. Instead of thinking of depression as storm clouds and pervasive doom, it may make more sense with your experience to consider depression as a gloom that has settled over your mind. This fog makes it difficult to:
- Find motivation.
- Recall trains of thought.
- Or even connect with moments of happiness.
Other days, the storm clouds roll through. Raging thoughts and lightning strikes of guilt, fear, and pangs of worthlessness hit close to home, damaging your sense of who you are. Depression can make you feel like you don’t matter or that you shouldn’t. When it’s so cloudy inside your head, helplessness sets in, and you retain little hope for sunny weather.
Both intensities of emotion and emptiness can be symptoms of depression in women. You may already be familiar with the classic definition of depression, where you feel profoundly sad. However, this intensity can also transfer to other emotions. Responding impulsively to something that may not ruffle you ordinarily can be confusing to manage and make you feel like a stranger in your own skin.
Intense restlessness along with feelings of anger or frustration may all be telltale signs of depression. On the flip side, depression may leave you with a jarring sense of numbness in place of emotions you’ve felt pretty consistently. And it’s not just those happy emotions that may suddenly feel inaccessible. We expect to feel unhappy in depression — we’re practically conditioned to it.
It’s the sense of feeling numb that really can drive us to madness. If you’re struggling to feel frustration for something that’s always bothered you, or you aren’t feeling passionately engaged in causes that once meant a lot to you, it may be depression. Feeling empty and untouched by powerful emotions can signify that it’s time to explore what’s going on at a deeper level.
Our Body in Pain
The hurt that so often goes hand-in-hand with depression doesn’t just apply to your heart or the way your thoughts feel inside your head. Perhaps that nagging muscle cramp or the stomach ache you can’t shake doesn’t really have anything to do with the way you’ve been treating your body (though please treat your body with kindness, it’s important). Depression can cause physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, joint pain, cramps, and maybe the culprit of what you’re experiencing.
Depression can settle in the physical body just as much as it can invade our thoughts. The mind is a powerful and inventive thing, and persistent aches and pains can result from our attempts to ignore it. When we don’t heed our emotional signs of distress, the body will whisper what the mind pushes away in a manner that you can no longer ignore. Your body may change in response to how depression feels. You may gain or lose weight, and your appetite will fluctuate. You may feel extra tired or entirely unable to sleep.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Though pop culture and media essentially paint a singular image of what depression looks like, many variables may present from woman to woman. While those depictions of sadness, lethargy, and withdrawal may be accurate for several depressive experiences, they are not the only presentation.
Depression can look like overachieving, never sleeping, always doing, or constantly ‘on.’ It may even look like wildly swinging between them. Not only can the symptoms of depression themselves differ, but the length of them, as well as their intensity, can vary.
Healing Symptoms of Depression in Women
The most consistent thing about depression is that it’s inconsistent. Symptoms vary across many extremes in nearly every facet of who you are. It is crucial to remember that no matter how depression invades your body or your thoughts, you are not your depression any more than the sky is the weather. Please pay attention to your symptoms and try not to discount them.
Seeking support for your depression is the most reliable way to manage the symptoms and move toward a life with more predictable weather systems. When depression symptoms cloud your skies, you are not alone. Here at Villa Kali Ma, when your depression coincides with addiction, we will help you build shelter until the storm passes and even embrace the battery for the new life it brings.