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When Women Cannot Speak Up About Their Emotional Experiences

In cooperation with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Women’s Health magazine conducted a groundbreaking study. Surveying more than 2,000 women, the team created data to uncover a growing mental health problem among women: smiling depression. Smiling depression is the depression that women keep under wraps.  Women who are struggling to regulate their emotions may not have clinical depression but are still struggling. To meet the expectations of society, their partners, their children, or their families, women simply smile and bear it.

“For millions of women, this dichotomy between inner anguish and outer cheerfulness is all too familiar. Experts call it ‘smiling depression,’ in which individuals put on a false front to hide symptoms.” This particular experience of depression, the experts weigh in, is more common than clinically severe forms of depression or emotional difficulty. Eighty-nine percent of the women who responded to the survey who had self-described depression or anxiety said, according to Women’s Health, “…they can keep their struggles under wraps while performing day-to-day activities like going to work and hanging out with friends.”

One of the challenges women face in their struggles with mental health is being taken seriously. Women can’t be addicts, can’t be alcoholics, and can’t struggle with mental health, according to the expectations of society. When women are struggling with alcoholism, are struggling with addiction, and are struggling with mental health, they feel like they have to hide it or else be forced to prove themselves deserving of the diagnosis. Sixty-two percent of the participants admitted to hiding their symptomatic experiences because “it’s easier to smile than to explain how I feel”. Fifty-three percent felt that saying something might make them appear weak or out of control, which they did not want to feel.

This unfortunate experience has a potentially life-threatening effect. Instead of dealing with the challenges of opening up, women suffer through the challenges of keeping their struggles to themselves. It can become too much and proliferate the problems they are facing. More than half of the total women who responded to the survey who feel they have a form of smiling depression have considered suicide. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Your life’s worth living. Your words are worth hearing. 1-800-273-8255.


Villa Tranquil is a unique program for women’s transitional living. Giving women a beautiful home with continuing structure and clinical structure, our program helps women discover how to live embodying their authentic selves while developing serenity in their sobriety. Offered to women between the ages of 18-65, Villa Tranquil is giving women the life of recovery they’re living for. Call us today for information: 214-799-3080