Depression in Women: Can Exercise Combat Depression Symptoms?

depression symptoms

Learn how depression symptoms can differ in women versus men at

It isn’t uncommon for men and women who are experiencing depression symptoms to be told by their medical provider that exercise may help. But now, a new study is revealing that this suggestion is not always true. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the greatest cause of disability around the world, with the organization estimating it affecting 300 million people. 

While there are numerous treatments available that have been proven effective, research tells us that more than half of people dealing with depression do not receive treatment. This is typical because of being misdiagnosed, having a lack of access to medical care, or because of the stigma that revolves around depression and mental health.

In addition to prescribing antidepressants, doctors typically recommend exercise to their patients because of the boost of endorphins that can be obtained from physical activity. A new study however, from researchers at the University of Michigan, found that exercise benefits on depression differ when it comes to men and women. The survey involved more than 1,100 college students in Beijing, analyzing their exercise and sleep patterns and also asking extensive questionnaires about their workout habits, symptoms, and hours of sleep.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers were surprised to find that the beneficial connection between depression and exercise symptoms were only showing in the male participants, challenging previous research on the topic.

Click here to discover ways to combat postpartum depression in women.

Differences Regarding Depression in Women

When it comes to depression and women, this wouldn’t be the first time things differ when it comes to the sexes. Women are two times as likely than men to deal with depression and they also have different reasons depression can occur, including reproductive hormones, how the female body handles stress, and different life scenarios and life stressors.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Women

Types of depression women can have include major depression, postpartum depression, persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Symptoms of depression in women usually include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and feeling anxious
  • Feeling hopeless, empty, and sad
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in sleeping habits (sleeping too much or unable to sleep)
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues, and pain
  • Lack of energy
  • Experiencing mood swings or feeling out of control
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, daily activities, and relationships with other

Additional signs of depression in women are feelings of tension, suicidal thoughts or actions, and having panic attacks.

While this newest study goes against the recommendation of people experiencing depression to exercise in order to improve symptoms, more studies will need to be done to validate the findings. One principal investigator of this recent study believed these findings were due in part to the fact that the men in the study typically took part in high-intensity exercise whereas the women did not. Previous studies have shared that low-to-moderate intensity physical activity is the main way to release “feel-good” endorphins.

In order to further study the link of exercise and symptoms of depression in women, researchers plan to gather larger study groups from various locations around the globe that are in different age groups.

Click here to discover 10 foods that can improve your mood.

If you are experiencing any signs of depression as mentioned above, know that a variety of treatments are available. Depression can affect every area of your life but there are ways to properly treat your symptoms that can help you get back to enjoying your life. Learn more about signs of depression in women and treatment options at

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