Depressed Men Often Trade Places with Spouse Per New Study

From ScienceDaily.com…

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

Going Through Divorce? Learn Self-Compassion for Best Outcome

As an individual who is currently going through divorce, I know firsthand the emotional distress that divorcees experience. Divorce brings up feelings of loss, sadness, anger, jealousy, grief, guilt, shame, embarrassment, and anxiety (to name but a few!).

How do I survive divorce?

All of these are normal feelings for one muddling through a divorce. While I have struggled at times with my divorce, overall it has gone better than I ever could have imagined. Yes, there have been days filled with depression. There have been moments of hopelessness. There are the occasional bouts of anger. Yet, on the whole, I greatly misjudged just how difficult the experience would be.

Self-Compassion is the Key to an Easier Divorce

Partly, this success is due to my having taught and practiced self-compassion for the past five years.

Self-compassion is basically being kind to yourself when things go badly. However, this is a greatly watered down version of self-compassion.

The goal is to treat yourself with the same type of kindness and compassion that most people extend to loved ones when they fail. When someone else makes a mistake, most people will react with some degree of kindness and understanding. Self-compassion turns down the volume on anger typically associated with huge mistakes while still maintaining your sense of personal responsibility. A 2007 study at Duke University found that ‘inducing self-compassion may disengage the relationship between taking responsibility and experiencing negative affect.’ This allows you to still take full responsibility for your mistakes while minimizing the amount of time that you spend beating yourself up as well as reduced the intensity of those ubiquitous destructive emotions I mentioned earlier.

The way in which you do this is to speak to yourself as if you were a three-year-old child. This allows for mistakes (which is a major path for learning), screw ups, and errors. Self-compassion is related to greater resiliency (the ability to bounce back from difficulty) which every divorcee can use.

New Study on Self-Compassion and Divorce 

A study is coming out this month in Psychological Science on the importance of self-compassion for those in the midst of a divorce. The authors, David Sbarra, Hillary Smith and Matthias Mehl, state ‘Self-compassion can promote resilience and positive outcomes in the face of divorce.’

The study compared self-compassion to other major traits, such as self-esteem, resistance to depression, realistic optimism, or social intelligence. The findings?

Self-Compassion Accurately Predicted Quickest Positive Outcome Following Divorce 

The only trait that consistently predicted positive outcomes following a divorce was self-compassion. That is amazing!

The study involved 105 participants (38 men and 67 women) with an average age of 40. They’d been married, on average, for 13 years and had been divorced for 3-4 months. The researchers had the participants call to mind their ex-spouse and then talk for four minutes about their thoughts and emotions related to the break up. This was done at three time points – initial visit, three months later and six to nine months later.  The researchers looked at the frequency of intrusive unpleasant thoughts, negative emotions related to the divorce and their ex and how well they were getting on with life since the break up.

Those participants with higher levels of self-compassion recovered from divorce faster and were doing better after the nine month period.

Dealing with Divorce Using Self-compassion

Self-compassion, according to my former Cal classmate, Kristin Neff, is a combination of mindfulness (being aware of feelings of jealousy and anger, for example, without getting stuck in them), an awareness of the interconnectedness of humanity (we all suffer at times), and self-kindness.

Self-compassion, in my opinion, is an integral part of positive psychology in the sense that it is rapidly showing itself to be an instrumental tool in any happy, thriving, meaningful life.

To find out more, check out my award-winning self-help book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought which is currently available for free at www.GuideToSelf.com.

If you are angry about your divorce, please visit my new video blog (vlog) at AngerGeek.com for free tips on how to turn down the volume on anger!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author, award-winning blogger, national speaker, emotion expert

Vulnerability – The Birth Place of Shame, Joy, Love and a Meaningful Life – Brene’ Brown

Brene’ Brown is my new hero(ine). You must check out this fantastic talk she did at TED in 2010.

I’m currently ordering numerous copies of her recent book, The Gifts of Imperfection, for all the mothers I know for Mother’s Day.

Emminently readable, vastly significant and life-changing.


If you’d like a FREE copy of my award-winning book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, simply go to www.GuideToSelf.com, click on the yellow book icon on the left side of the page and enter your name and email address.

Have a relaxing Mother’s Day!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder Guide to Self, Inc.
Award-winning author and blogger
Anger management coach
http://webangermanagement.com

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 eHarmony.com; 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: http://connect.ku.edu/tests/flirt/

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

To life, love and laughter!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

http://www.GuidetoSelf.com

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.

 Cheers,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Anger management tools for fathers and husbands

Free award-winning self-help book at

http://www.GuideToSelf.com

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 http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/08/100820101207.htm