Depressed Men Often Trade Places with Spouse Per New Study


Depressed Man Depression in Men

‘Trading Places’ Most Common Pattern for Couples Dealing With Male Depression

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) — University of British Columbia researchers have identified three major patterns that emerge among couples dealing with male depression. These can be described as “trading places,” “business as usual” and “edgy tensions.”

Published in the Social Science & Medicine journal and led by UBC researcher John Oliffe, the paper details how heterosexual couples’ gender roles undergo radical shifts and strain when the male partner is depressed and the female partner seeks to help. Depression, a disorder often thought of as a women’s health issue, is underreported in men, and little is known about how heterosexual couples respond when the male partner is depressed.

“Overall, our study underscores how women play a key role in helping their male partners manage their depression,” says Oliffe, an associate professor in the School of Nursing whose work investigates masculinities and men’s health with a focus on men’s depression.

“Our findings suggest that gender relations are pivotal in how health decisions are made in families and for that reason, it’s important to understand couple dynamics if we want to have effective interventions.”

Oliffe and his UBC colleagues found that “trading places” is the most common pattern. In these relationships, the partners took on atypical masculine and feminine roles to cope with challenges caused by the men’s depression. For instance, men assumed the role of homemaker while the women became the family breadwinner.

Oliffe says, “Here, women partners also broke with feminine ideals in how they provided partner support by employing tough love strategies for self-protection and a means of prompting the men’s self-management of their depression.”

The second most common pattern is “business as usual,” when couples sought to downplay or mask any problems caused by the men’s depression. Holding firm to idealized heterosexual gender roles, the women continued to support and nurture their partners. Despite their ongoing struggles with depression, the men continued to work hard to maintain their careers in typically masculine arenas, which in the study included engineering, science, law enforcement, forestry and coaching.

The third pattern, “edgy tensions,” describes men and women caught in dysfunctional relationships. Each holding ideas of gender roles that differed from those of their partner, these couples grappled with resentment. The men resisted medical treatment. Instead, they used alcohol and illicit drugs, at least in part, to self-manage their depression. The women expressed ambivalence about conforming to the feminine ideal of being a “selfless nurturer,” especially for men who were volatile and unpredictable. The men in turn espoused a view of themselves as head of the household.

The study conducted qualitative analysis through in-depth interviews with 26 men, diagnosed or self identified as depressed, and their 26 partners, from Prince George, Kelowna and Vancouver. The study participants ranged in age from 20 to 53 years old. The duration of the couples’ relationships ranged from two months to 18 years; seven couples had children living at home.

The men self-identified as Anglo-Canadian, First Nations, European, Asian and Middle Eastern. Seven couples were in mixed ethnicity relationships. The men had varying levels of education ranging from some high school to graduate degrees; 14 of the 26 men were unemployed at the time of interview, and self-identified as being of low socio-economic status as a consequence.

This research received support through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Gender and Health.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of British Columbia.

Journal Reference:

John L. Oliffe, Mary T. Kelly, Joan L. Bottorff, Joy L. Johnson, Sabrina T. Wong. “He’s more typically female because he’s not afraid to cry”: Connecting heterosexual gender relations and men’s depression. Social Science & Medicine, 2011; 73 (5): 775 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.034

Kids – Learn Your Math Skills! Numeracy Skills Linked to More Wealth

From Science Daily…

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2010) — Couples who score well on a simple test of numeracy ability accumulate more wealth by middle age than couples who score poorly on such a test, according to a new study of married couples in the United States.

Psychology of wealth, success and happiness

Researchers found that when both spouses answered three numeracy-related questions correctly, family wealth averaged $1.7 million, while among couples where neither spouse answered any questions correctly the average household wealth was $200,000. Numeracy is the ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts, and are skills typically learned during school.

“We examined several cognitive skills and found that a simple test that checks a person’s numeracy skills was a good predictor of who would be a better family financial decision maker,” said James P. Smith, a co-author of the study and Distinguished Chair in Labor Markets and Demographic Studies at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. The other two authors of the study are John McArdle of the University of Southern California and Robert Willis of the University of Michigan.

Researchers found that choosing the wrong person as a family’s primary financial decision maker can have consequences. While families choose the less-numerate spouse less than 20 percent of the time, when this does happen total household wealth is lower.

The findings are published in the November edition of The Economic Journal.

The study relied on a sample of married couples from the Health and Retirement Survey, a nationally representative survey of Americans at least 50 years old that includes high-quality measurement of family wealth and tests of cognitive ability of both husbands and wives. The Health and Retirement Survey is funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers say the skills needed to make successful investment choices are among the most cognitively demanding that a family has to make, especially as they get older and assume greater control of decisions about their wealth, pensions and health care.

The new study is one of the first to examine who makes these financial decisions for a household, how that selection is influenced by couple’s personal attributes and the relative cognitive abilities of both wives and husbands.

In addition to studying numeracy skills, the study also examined the impact that other cognitive skills, including memory retrieval and intact mental status, may have on financial outcomes. Researchers found the other cognitive functions studied had far less influence on a household’s wealth.

Other findings from the study include:

• As the numeracy score of each spouse rose, the percent of a family’s portfolio held in stocks increased.

• A man was the financial decision maker in 62 percent of the households studied. This male preference was particularly pronounced when the husband was older and more educated than his wife.

• Selection of the husband as the financial decision maker was more sensitive to a husband’s numeracy ability than it was to the numeracy skills of the wife. Even when a husband scored zero in his numeracy test, there was essentially a 50-50 chance that he would still be selected as the financial decision maker. This male bias in choosing the financial decision maker has been declining over time so that it is smaller among younger couples in this age range.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging to RAND, the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan.

1. James P. Smith, John J. McArdle, Robert Willis. Financial Decision Making and Cognition in a Family Context. The Economic Journal, 2010; 120 (548): F363 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02394.x

RAND Corporation (2010, November 10). Couple’s numeracy skills linked to greater family wealth, study finds. ScienceDaily.

Study your math! Study your math! Study your math!

To life, love, laughter and wealth!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

For a free PDF copy of the award-winning self-improvement book on positive psychology and optimal human functioning, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, visit and enter your name and email address for 216 pages of the latest tools to manage your mind. This book includes tools to turn down sadness, stress, anxiety, guilt and anger. What’s more it includes tools to turn up the volume on curiosity, joy, pride, love, compassion and relaxation. It’s the key to your courage, success, wealth and happiness.

Top Five Flirting Styles For Falling in Love

Top 5 Flirting Styles for Falling in Love

ScienceDaily (Nov. 6, 2010) — A little self-awareness can help people struggling in the world of relationships, says Jeffrey Hall, assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas.

Hall recently completed a study into styles of flirting among dating adults, surveying more than 5,100 people regarding their methods of communicating romantic interest.

“Knowing something about the way you communicate attraction says something about challenges you might have had in your past dating life,” Hall said. “Hopefully, this awareness can help people avoid those mistakes and succeed in courtship.”

He identified five styles of flirting: physical, traditional, polite, sincere and playful.

• Physical flirting involves the expression of sexual interest in a potential partner. People who scored high in this form of flirting often develop relationships quickly, have more sexual chemistry and have a greater emotional connection to their partners.

• Traditional flirts think men should make the first move and women should not pursue men. Because they adopt a more passive role in dating, women with this style are likely to report trouble getting men’s attention and are less likely to flirt or be flattered by flirting. Traditional men often know a potential partner for a longer time before approaching them. Both genders tend to be introverted and prefer a more intimate dating scene.

• The polite style of flirting focuses on proper manners and nonsexual communication. Although they are less likely to approach a potential partner and do not find flirting flattering, they do tend to have meaningful relationships.

• Sincere flirting is based on creating emotional connections and communicating sincere interest. Although women tend to score higher in this style, it is advocated by both genders. Relationships involve strong emotional connections and sexual chemistry and are typically meaningful.

• People with playful flirting styles often flirt with little interest in a long-term romance. However, they find flirting fun and enhancing to their self-esteem. They are less likely to have important and meaningful relationships.

Hall said that for the most part, there was little difference between genders within each flirting style.

The research results likely will be used by future researchers who study courtship behaviors, Hall said. But he added that such information has overall value to society.

“In some ways, the very early part of developing relationships is important to the success of long-term relationships, including marriages,” he said.

The results of the survey appear in the October issue of the journal Communication Quarterly. Hall co-authored the article with Steve Carter, senior director of research and product development at; Michael J. Cody, professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California; and Julie M. Albright, adjunct professor of sociology at USC.

Take the flirting styles survey:

University of Kansas (2010, November 6). Self awareness can help people navigate rocky seas of relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from¬ /releases/2010/11/101101082901.htm

To life, love and laughter!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

John Schinnerer positive psychology coach love flirting relationships

Both Mom AND Dad Get Boost in Oxytocin After Baby – New Study

I have been studying the effects of the hormone oxytocin over the past few years. In that time, oxytocin has been shown to

– play a critical role in trust between individuals

– may play a role in turning down the volume on social phobias and anxiety disorders

– be connected to greater generosity

– lead to a shift in brain chemistry that generates increased cooperation

– relate to bonding with infants as well as lovers

– improve relationships with friends and coworkers.

Oxytocin exists at higher levels in females than males. And it’s been known that oxytocin increases upon the birth of a child in new mothers. However, until recently, levels of oxytocin had not been researched in new fathers.

A compelling new study shares the first longitudinal data on oxytocin levels in rookie parents. The study looked at how oxytocin fluctuates in the in first 6 months of 160 newbie parents (i.e. 80 couples) following the birth of their first child.

Three fascinating findings were reported.

The first finding:

At both 6 weeks and 6 months following the birth of their child, fathers’ oxytocin levels were similar to the levels seen in mothers. While oxytocin release is heightened by birth and lactation in mothers, it seems that something  about new parenthood stimulates a corresponding oxytocin release in rookie dads. This is dramatically different from how we once conceptualized oxytocin and it’s involvement in newbie parents. For years, it was thought that females were the caregivers; moms were the ones primarily responsible for bonding and nurturing, and dads tried to stay out of the way.

One of the authors of the study, Dr. Ruth Feldman, called out that this finding “emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for father-infant interactions immediately after childbirth in order to trigger the neuro-hormonal system that underlies bond formation in humans.”

The second major finding is that there is a relationship between oxytocin levels in the newbie dad and the newbie mom. Generally, oxytocin levels remain consistent within individuals. This finding suggests that something about new parenthood, perhaps enviornmental or hormonal factors, synchronizes oxytocin levels in rookie parents.

The third staggering finding showed that oxytocin levels were related to HOW mom and dad parent; that is what their parenting style is.  Oxytocin was highest in rookie moms who were more affectionate, expressive with positive emotions, gazed more at the baby, and expressed more gentle, loving touches.  In rookie dads, oxytocin was heightened with more touching of the newborn, more frequent cheering the child on to explore the environment, and pointing out new objects to the infant. 

“It is very interesting that elevations in the same hormone were associated with different types of parenting behaviors in mothers and fathers even though the levels of oxytocin within couples were somewhat correlated. These differences may reflect the impact of culture-specific role expectations, but they also may be indicative of distinct circuit effects of oxytocin in the male and female brain,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

It’s critical to keep in mind the importance of both the mom and the dad in the raising of infants and young children. Let’s get both involved from the get go. The roles are distinctly different, yet both are essential. Both have a place in the development of healthy humans.


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Anger management tools for fathers and husbands

Free award-winning self-help book at

1.Ilanit Gordon, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, James F. Leckman, and Ruth Feldman. Oxytocin and the Development of Parenting in Humans. Biological Psychiatry, 2010; 68 (4): 377 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.02.005

 MLA Elsevier (2010, August 22). Oxytocin: It’s a Mom and Pop Thing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/08/100820101207.htm

Student Rehab – 12 Step Program for the Digitally Addicted

It’s August 12th! Less than 2 weeks left before school starts!

You know what time it is!

Time for Back to School Rehab!

Teacher: ‘So students, did everyone have a wonderful Summer?

Okay, glad to hear it.

Now I know you’ve spent the past 3 months playing video games, tweeting and texting on your phones, and fondling the remote control mindlessly, so it’s time for some brief solution-focused group therapy.

How many of you can focus on one thing for longer than 3 seconds?

How many of you have heard of a handheld wireless tool called a ‘book?’

Award-winning book Guide To Self: The Beginners Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought

Let’s see a show of hands please….hold them up. Okay, 2 of you.

In that case, let’s talk about addiction.

Johnny, I need you to stop moving your thumbs.


Yes, just use your thoughts, dear. Really, you can stop fidgeting using your mind!

I know it’s difficult, dear. Just give it a try.

The withdrawals from your iPhones, video games and laptops seem just as bad as nicotine detox.

Addiction is when you can’t stop thinking about where your next fix is coming from. So if all you can think about is getting home to fire up WOW or COD, you just might be addicted!

Call of Duty (COD)

Addiction is when you spend all your energy focusing on how your going to get your next fix. So if you are counting the seconds from first period to the end of the school day while worrying about playing Angry Birds on the iPhone, you just might be addicted!

Remember, quitting technology cold turkey can be brutal.

So if you need a fix during the school day, we were just got in some brand new Kindles. You can use them in the meantime to quiet those nasty eye twitches and finger tics.

Alright. I’m glad we had the chance to have this little chat. There’s the school bell.





John Schinnerer Ph.D.