7 Self-Care Tips for Women With Depression

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Evelyn Creekmore on November 22, 2021
  • Young Caucasian woman through window looking sad while standing at kitchen sink
    Depression in Women
    Did you know women are twice as likely as men to experience depression? Differences in social expectations, natural hormones, and side effects of hormone therapies, including birth control, all play a role. When faced with stress, women also release more of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol than men, making the heart beat faster, raising blood pressure, and generally disrupting the body’s standard operating procedures. Be aware of these signs you may be depressed: feeling hopeless, loss of interest in favorite activities, and difficulty concentrating. The good news is, taking time for yourself can add moments of rest and joy to difficult days. Talk with your doctor and make self-care a priority.

  • woman-outside-on-swingset
    1. Take your place in the sun.
    If you’re depressed, you may long to close the curtains and lie on the couch indefinitely. Isolation is tempting, but it makes depression worse. Try to get outside for 15 minutes a day. Sunlight raises the level of serotonin in your body, which improves mood. When indoors, it can also help to sit near windows. Ask your doctor if you’d benefit from using a light box when it gets colder. A specific kind of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by less daylight in winter, and it’s four times as common in women as men.

  • Woman jogging up stairs
    2. Try to exercise.
    Fatigue often accompanies depression. This makes it harder to get motivated to exercise, but exercise is the very thing that can help you get your energy back. Studies show exercises with a rhythm to them may be best for depression. There are many options, including walking, dancing, swimming and tennis. Choose something you like and start as small as you want, working up to 20 to 30 minutes a day. It can help to find an exercise buddy or join a class for support and encouragement. Remember: the time you spend exercising will make the rest of the day much easier to take on.

  • African American woman in conversation with friend on couch
    3. Expand your support system.
    Depression can make you feel completely alone. But is that really the case? Assess the resources you may have for support that you just haven’t tapped yet. Give yourself permission to ask for help. Think about the people who really care about you. Think about the people you trust. The perfect candidates for your support system are good at listening without judging. Not everyone has the right people in their lives, but you still have options. Community support groups, online or in-person, can make all the difference to women coping with depression. It can also help to delegate some responsibilities to loved ones with capacity. Women often take on heavier caregiving roles, but it’s okay to let some things fall off your shoulders while you focus on yourself.

  • Women construction volunteers
    4. Take support offline.
    Social media, virtual meet-ups, and texting can all make you feel less alone–but try not to rely on these methods exclusively. A little face time can go a long way toward normalizing your emotions and making you feel better faster. Try to attend some in-person activities, even if you don’t stay very long. Many women with depression can also benefit from “showing up” for someone else. Simply doing someone a favor, for example, can make you feel better about yourself.

  • woman smiling in kitchen
    5. Give your body the fuel it needs.
    Feeling depressed and turning to comfort food is common, understandable ̶ and a vicious cycle. Tearing through a bag of chips or a sleeve of cookies can make you feel good in the moment but worse after the fact. Try to resist over-doing saturated fats, salt, and sugar. Work in leafy greens, lean protein, and fruit to get mood-boosting vitamin B, iron and vitamin D. Certain vitamins and herbal supplements can also ease depression symptoms for some women with some types of depression, but always talk with your doctor before trying them. It’s also easy to find yourself skipping meals when you’re not feeling well. Set reminders if necessary to eat something small every few hours so you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to help you heal.

  • Middle aged African American woman smiling and laughing with cup of coffee
    6. Practice changing your thought patterns.
    Depression comes with substantial negative thinking. Take a step back from these thoughts and assess how realistic they are and how much time you need to keep spending on them. Be on the lookout for rumination. If you can’t stop thinking about a problem or worry for hours or days on end, that’s ruminating ̶ and it’s not productive. Consider ways to distract yourself, amplify the positives in your life instead of the negatives, and take a break from beating yourself up to practice self-care.

  • woman laughing during yoga
    7. Talk with an expert.
    Depression has many causes and many treatments. It can be triggered by genetics, traumatic events in the past, hormonal changes in the present, and fears for the future. Self-care can move the needle, but it’s not always enough. Talk with your doctor about seeing a specialist to explore talk therapy and medication. Many women also see results from alternative or complementary therapies like mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, music therapy, yoga ̶ and even laughter yoga. Make today the day you commit to self-care and see how changing one thing can change your whole outlook.

Depression Self-Care | Women With Depression

About The Author

Evelyn Creekmore has more than 15 years of experience writing online educational health content, including nearly 10 years full-time at WebMD, where she was the director of brand content. She holds an MPH in Applied Public Health Informatics from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and an MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  1. How to Improve Mental Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html
  2. Understanding depression in women. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-in-women.htm
  3. Stress management. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
  4. WellSpan Health. Defeating depression and anxiety: Tips for women. https://www.wellspan.org/news/story/defeating-depression-and-anxiety-tips-for-women/N5606
  5. Self-Care Wellness Toolkit. Humboldt State University. https://wellbeing.humboldt.edu/sites/default/files/health/Self%20Care%20Wellness%20Toolkit%20for%20Depression%20and%20Anxiety_for%20website.pdf
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Last Review Date: 2021 Nov 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.