The term “gender gap” is often used to describe the stark socioeconomic inequalities between men and women — on average, women earn just 82 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. They also have fewer opportunities for advancement and hold fewer leadership roles in the workplace.

But the gender gap doesn’t just hit women’s wallets, it also affects their mental health. Despite the fact that people of all ages and from all walks of life develop depression, women are about twice as likely as men to experience major depression. Women have significantly higher rates of chronic depression (dysthymia) and seasonal affective disorder, too.

Understanding depression

Virtually everyone knows what it’s like to go through difficult times. But if you feel sad, hopeless, overwhelmed, or disinterested most of the time, you may be suffering from depression.

Depression isn’t just a “case of the blues,” and it isn’t something you can simply “snap out of” on your own. It’s a common and serious mental health condition that affects one in 15 adults at any given time.

Depression can affect anyone, irrespective of perceived circumstances. While each case has its own unique set of contributing factors and conditions, changes in brain chemistry, hormonal imbalances, and genetic factors are often part of the picture.

Women and depression

Research shows that about one in four women develop depression at some point in life, while one in three women can expect to experience a major depressive episode at least once.

While experts are still trying to pinpoint exactly what makes women more prone to depression than men, the following factors appear to contribute to the broader explanation:

Family history

Although anyone who has a family history of depression are at an increased risk of developing it, women are particularly vulnerable to this genetic precursor.

Studies of identical twins, or people who share the exact same genes, reveal that heredity can boost the risk of major depression by about 40%. Unfortunately, some of the genetic mutations that have been linked to severe depression only occur in women.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes may not be a direct cause of depression, but they can set the stage for the disorder and make it more likely. Because women experience hormonal fluctuations regularly, and because they go through more intense hormonal changes at specific times in life, their risk of depression is biologically greater.

Depression rates in women are particularly high during major life events that involve hormonal changes. Postpartum depression, which isn’t simply a case of the “baby blues,” is estimated to affect up to 15% of new moms; shifting hormone levels and other bothersome “change of life” symptoms also increase the risk of depression during menopause.

Chronic stress

Chronically high stress levels are a significant risk factor for depression, and women are more likely than men to say they usually feel stressed out. Although individual women have different stressors, many women cite work overload, life circumstances, or abuse as their main source of stress.

Many women work full-time and still manage to shoulder most of the responsibility at home, including taking care of young children and/or older parents.

Women are also more likely than men to live in poverty, be single parents, and suffer some form of abuse (sexual or physical), all of which can contribute to the development of (and help perpetuate) a major depressive disorder.

Seeking treatment

Life is hard when you’re faced with relentless sadness, hopelessness, indifference, or feelings of low self-worth, but there’s always hope.

Compared to other mental health conditions, depression is highly treatable — even when it’s severe. Targeted treatment solutions provide some degree of symptom relief for virtually all patients, and 80-90% of patients respond so well they eventually achieve complete recovery.

Overcoming depression

Here at MindSet, we specialize in providing holistic, fully personalized treatment solutions for people suffering from depression, including those whose symptoms haven’t improved with medication, psychotherapy, or other conventional treatment methods.

Personalized repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (PrTMS) offers an advanced solution for depression that uses noninvasive, low-amplitude magnetic pulses to target the abnormal brainwave patterns associated with depression.

Using advanced brainwave mapping techniques and sophisticated technology to ensure your treatment is tailored to your needs from start to finish, we can direct these gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate activity in specific areas of your brain.

As your brainwave patterns begin to normalize, your symptoms will start to improve — many patients experience life-changing symptom relief in just a few short weeks.

To find out how PrTMS can help you overcome depression, call our San Diego, California office today, or click online to schedule an appointment with Kevin Murphy, MD any time.