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

Positive Emotions Unlock Anger, Boost Innovation and Improve Physical Health

The evidence is mounting…

evidence that positive emotions exist for a reason…

evidence that evolution has selected positive emotions for specific reasons that help our species – reasons that help you in every area of your life.

Positive emotions include feelings such as awe, curiosity, gratitude, compassion, calm, love, joy, interest, passion and happiness.

Evidence is mounting to support the importance of cultivating positive emotions for success in a variety of areas in your life.

Creativity, Innovation via positive emotions

A comfy nesting bed with egg pillows

At the beginning of every session with a new client, I make a point of sharing a short, humorous video clip. One of my personal favorites is the popular Mother’s Day video by Barats and Bereta (www.BaratsAndBereta.com)…

The reason for sharing a humorous video with new clients is three-fold.

First, the funny video unlocks any negative emotions the client may be holding onto such as anger, irritability, anxiety or sadness (Fredrickson, The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions, 2004, The Royal Society).

Second, those few, fleeting moments of laughter, mirth and smiling  reduce depressive symptoms and improve your well-being and  satisfaction with life (Sin & Lyubomirsky, Enhancing Well-Being and Alleviating Depressive Symptoms With Positive Psychology Interventions: Practice-Friendly Meta-Analysis, JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY: IN SESSION, 2009).

Positive psychology of innovation

Combination stairs and slide for young ones

Third, science has known for over a decade that chronic anger, anxiety and depression put you at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease (Suls & Bunde, Anger, Anxiety, and Depression as Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease, Psychological Bulletin, 2005). Most people go through life with the sympathetic branch of the ANS stuck in the ‘on’ position. The sympathetic branch is similar to the gas pedal in a car. Negative emotions (along with stress, exhaustion, and lack of exercise) activate the sympathetic nervous system which leads to increased heart rate, pulse and higher levels of cortisol into the blood stream. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.

On the flip side, positive emotions activate the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which acts like the brakes on a car.  The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is in charge of calming the body, reducing heart rate and pulse, and bringing the body back to a resting state. The extent to which you can activate your PNS predicts your emotional and physical health. It is intimately related to how well you can self-regulate your own emotions.

Lower levels of PNS activity are related to higher levels of depression (Chambers and Allen, 2002), anxiety (Friedman and Thayer, 1993), aggression (Beauchaine and others, 2007), and hostility (Virtanen and others, 2003).

On the other side, higher levels of PNS activity are associated with better psychological flexibility, health and resiliency. Individuals with higher levels of PNS activity are related to more resiliency to stress (Britton and others, 2008) as well as greater mental health in children in the face of chronic conflict between parents at home.

Gum shoe - outside the box thinking

How do you come up with such an idea? Start with passion and curiosity

Importantly, the frequency with which you experience positive emotions is related to a more active PNS. Individuals who were shown humorous video clips demonstrated faster heart rate recover after experiencing intense negative emotions (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998). In addition, simply asking people to think about a time when they felt grateful activated the PNS.

Other ways to ‘turn on’ the PNS include exercise, laughter, mindfulness, massage, yoga, walking your dog and taking fish oil.

Positive psychology John Schinnerer PhD

You’ve gotta’ be inspired to come up with a bedroom like this! 

The success I’ve experienced with clients in my private practice is directly related to how well I can make them laugh. With laughter comes opportunity…

opportunity to unlock stale old anger,

opportunity to teach critical new skills,

opportunity to think outside the box, and

opportunity to transform your life for the better.

How do you proceed from here?

Begin to become more aware of the percentage of time you spend in a positive emotional state as compared to a negative state. This simple realization, this basic level of awareness will begin to produce massive tectonic shifts in your life. And you will reap the benefits…on a number of levels…physical, relational, and emotional.

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author of Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought (for a free PDF version, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com and enter your name and email address)

Award-winning author of The Shrunken Mind – the blog on positive psychology

Free online anger management classes which incorporate humor and positive psychology at WebAngerManagement.com

Upcoming Surge in Male Depression – Rough Economy and Increased Irritability To Have Negative Effects on Kids

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder, Guide to Self, Inc. 

Experts are predicting that rough economic times are likely to lead to a sizeable increase in male depression and irritability and a massive shift in whom is doing the parenting in the United States and how well they are doing it.  

Will Men Become More Prone to Depression Than Women?

While women have traditionally been twice as likely to develop depression, that may change in the coming 10 years. Companies in the Western world are undergoing a profound reorganization that is likely to have a ripple effect throughout society. Blue-collar, physically-demanding jobs, which have traditionally been held predominantly by men, are being outsourced to nations with cheaper sources of labor or are being replaced by technology. 

75% of Jobs Lost Since 2007 Were Held By Men

Since the start of the recession in 2007, roughly 75 out of 100 jobs lost in the U.S. were filled by men. The likelihood that traditional male occupations will return is low.

“Western men, particularly those with low education, will face a difficult road in the 21st century,” wrote Dr. Boadie Dunlop, director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at Emory University School of Medicine, in his recent commentary in the March 2011 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.While it’s difficult to directly connect layoffs with depression, it is known that unexpected job loss is linked to a variety of mental issues such as depression, irritability, lower self-esteem, and anxiety.    

More Women Becoming Primary Breadwinners

In their commentary, Dr. Dunlop and co-author, Tanja Mletzko, M.A., highlight the trend in which more women are becoming the main source of income for the family. The percentage of wives whom earn more than their spouses has risen from 4% in 1970 to 22% in 2007.  

The Downward Depression Spiral

Generally, men place a higher level of importance on being the financial provider and the defender of the family as compared to women. For many men, difficulty fulfilling the role of provider is likely to spark feelings of irritability and a depressed mood. In turn, this increase in negative emotion is likely to fuel more frequent and more intense arguments within the marriage.  This powder keg of negative affect and discord may lead to increased substance abuse and dissatisfaction with life. 

Depressed Men Spank More, Read Less to Children

Adding to this gloomy picture are recent findings from the University of Michigan Health System this month which state that depressed fathers are four times as likely to spank and less likely to read to their children. R. Neal Davis reports that depressed fathers stand a good chance of negatively influencing the development of their child. These findings are reported in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics.The U. of M. study followed 1,746 dads of 1-year-old children in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The fathers were asked how frequently they read to, sang to and played with their child(ren). The dads were also asked how frequently, if at all, they spanked their children in the past 30 days.  All dads were also checked for depressive symptoms.  Seven percent of the 1,746 fathers had significant depression. Of the depressed dads, nearly 20% reported reading less frequently to their children as compared to those without depression (41% vs. 58% read at least three times per week).  

Depressed Dads Three Times As Likely to Spank 

Perhaps more startling, over 40% of the depressed dads reported spanking their child in the past 30 days. This percentage was more than three times higher compared to fathers who weren’t depressed. It’s unknown to what extent spanking was under-reported by either group. 

Dads parenting male depression

Men Will Need Support to Parent Effectively

In any case, men who are transitioning to being more involved with parenting and running the home will need training and support in the areas of emotional management, parenting, and stress management. 

 Summary

Emotional management skills are critical to help men recognize and manage strong negative emotions such as sadness, anger and anxiety.  It’s also essential that we, as men, revisit what it means to be a ‘real man.’ We must redefine masculinity and think outside the box when it comes to how we think of ourselves and our roles in society. While there are bound to be some bumps in the road, in the long term, more active fathers is a positive development.  

Remember, we’re all rookies as parents when we first step into the role of father or mother.

About the Author

John Schinnerer, Ph.D. is in private practice helping clients learn anger management, stress management and the latest ways to deal with destructive negative emotions. He also helps people discover happier, more meaningful lives via positive psychology. His offices are in Danville, California 94526. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in educational psychology.  He has been an executive, speaker and coach for over 14 years.  John is Founder of Guide To Self, a company that coaches clients to happiness and success using the latest in positive psychology.  He hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a daily prime time radio show, in the SF Bay Area.   His areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to anger management, to coaching men.  He wrote the award-winning, “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,” which is available for FREE right now at www.GuideToSelf.com. His blog, Shrunken Mind, was recently recognized as one of the top 3 in positive psychology on the web. His new video blog teaches a unique positive psychology approach to anger management (http://www.WebAngerManagement.com)

Mindfulness Training Changes Brain Structure in As Little As Eight Weeks

Mindfulness is a 2500-year-old practice that focuses on the nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations and state of mind. Mindfulness is a staple of many positive psychology programs due to it’s wide-ranging positive health benefits. Mindfulness has been shown to be significantly helpful in reducing symptoms of depression, anger, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even speeds the healing of physical ailments such as psoriasis. Mindfulness rests on a mountain of research spanning over 30 years demonstrating its effectiveness in such areas.

Mindfulness as resting rocks

Most recently, active participation in an 8-week mindfulness program was shown to make noticeable physical changes in brain areas associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a new study coming out in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, spearheaded  by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers share the results of their study, the first ever to demonstrate mindfulness-produced improvements over an 8-week period in the brain’s grey matter.

Mindfulness – One of the Best Tools Available for Stress, Anxiety, Anger & Depression

“Although the practice of mindfulness is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that mindfulness also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s lead author.

Prior studies found structural differences between the brains of experienced mindfulness practitioners and individuals with no history of mindfulness, with thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with awareness and emotional intelligence. But those studies were unable to conclude that those differences were truly produced by the practice of mindfulness.

In this study, magnetic resonance images were taken of the brains of sixteen (16) participants two weeks before and after they took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included the practice of mindfulness — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations — participants received audio files to use for daily guided mindfulness practice. Participants tracked the amount of time they practiced mindfulness each day. A set of MRI brain images were also taken of a control group of people who did not practice mindfulness over the same 8-week period.

Mindfulness, stress management, anger management tools

Mindfulness group participants spent an average of 27 minutes daily practicing mindfulness exercises. Their answers to a mindfulness questionnaire showed significant improvements in mindfulness and meta-cognition compared with pre-study responses.

Physical Changes In Brain Due to Mindfulness Practice

The analysis of brain images found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, which is associated with new learning and long-term memory, as well as in brain regions associated with self-awareness and empathy.

Decrease in Stress & the Amygdala

Those who reported a decrease in stress also had a decrease in grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is associated with the presence of anxiety, depression and stress. Interestingly, no such changes were seen in the control group, indicating that the brain changes were not a result of the inevitable passage of time.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing mindfulness, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being, reduce stress and quality of life.” says Britta Hölzel, PhD, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that mindfulness can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

John Schinnerer, Ph.D., Founder of Guide to Self, Inc.

John Schinnerer, Ph.D. is in private practice in Danville, CA teaching clients the latest tools to manage emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. Using positive psychology, he helps clients achieve happy, thriving, meaningful lives. He graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in educational psychology. John hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a prime time radio show on positive psychology, in the San Francisco Bay Area.   He wrote the award-winning book, ‘Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought.’ He sits on the Advisory Board of PsychCentral.com, one of the top psychology sites on the web. He may be reached via email at John@GuideToSelf.com.  His award-winning blog on positive psychology, Shrunken Mind is at http://drjohnblog.guidetoself.com. His newest blog on positive psychology and anger management can be found at http://webangermanagement.com.
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Journal Reference:
1. Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011; 191 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006

Why Anger is the New ‘It’ Emotion (And Better Than Sex!)

How Anger is the New Sex

Switch off the Housewives they’re making you crazy. How to keep your temper in an angry age.

WebMD Feature from “Marie Claire” MagazineBy Joanne Chen

Free online anger management courses w emotion expert John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Whether it’s Wall Street bonuses, the Gulf oil fiasco, or cultural icons (David Letterman! Tiger Woods! Al Gore?!) flagrantly cheating on their wives, Americans have more reason than ever to be pissed off – a sentiment Charles Speilberger, Ph.D., University of South Florida psychologist, says we’re also quicker than ever to express. As coeditor of the recently published International Handbook of Anger – just one of the new releases examining our current age of rage – he should know. Because not only are there more reasons to get angry today, there are more outlets for it as well, from social media to reality TV to books, including Koren Zailckas’ tellingly titled memoir, Fury, out this month. Anger, it seems, is the new sex: It sells. And none of us, especially women, can get enough – just check out the bonanza ratings enjoyed by any reality show in which there’s even the potential for a hissy fit. So how will we ever calm down, and, more importantly, do we even want to? Take a deep breath (or two), and we’ll tell you.
WHAT’S MAKING YOU MAD
(And How to Stop It)

Once upon a time, we told each other off in person. Discussions grew heated, doors were slammed, and we moved on. Now, with so much of our daily communication done via e-mail, texting, or Facebook, many of the impulse controls we’d normally employ in confrontations have gone out the window. “Electronic media disinhibit the expression of anger,” says Michael Potegal, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Minnesota. Alone, typing angry thoughts to a friend or a loved one, we don’t have the benefit of seeing a facial reaction, reading body language, or hearing a voice – we’re wearing conversational blinders, so we end up typing things we’d never say in person.

This, in turn, breeds an anger-making dynamic all its own. Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center, calls this sort of one-sided expression of emotion “venting.” When we e-mail or text, which allows us to ignore the other side of the argument, “we feel justified; the more justified we feel, the angrier we get.” What’s more, typing a thoughtful response to your boyfriend in the heat of an argument is particularly tough when shorthand expressions (whatev!) roll so easily off the fingers. Soon, our inbox and Twitter feeds can devolve into rage-filled echo chambers, leaving us feeling vulnerable and guilty over things we wish we could un-type.

And according to University of Minnesota researchers, even cell-phone communication is fraught with risk. Chatting as we run errands may make us feel like great multitaskers, but the reality is that it means we take longer to react. Add poor sound quality and other distractions into the mix, and you have a recipe for misinterpretations and unintended interruptions – all of which, researchers say, lead to “hurt feelings, conflict, and misunderstandings.” What’s more, the fallout from this is often hardest on women: Says Ray Novaco, Ph.D., professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, women relive angry incidents more, and stay angry longer, than men do.

FINDING PEACE IN AN ANGRY WORLD
 

Turn off the TV. In a University of Maryland study, people who chose reading over watching TV were more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” than those who did the opposite, watching TV more than reading.

Live in 3-D. Save e-mails and cell-phone calls for appointments and reservations, never for heart-to-hearts. And always keep Twitter-talk light and conflict-free.

Breathe. Delay responding to an e-mail or text message that annoys you. Take five breaths; call when you have time to talk calmly. Better yet, take a night to sleep on it. Never, ever send a work e-mail in anger.

Sleep. “Irritability is a symptom of insomnia,” notes Nancy Molitor, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Northwestern University. The message: Snooze more and you’ll be in better control of your emotions – and your tongue.

Be grateful. Make a daily list of everything you’re grateful for as a way to dispel anger, which Novaco says is the “absence of appreciation.”

Move. “The chemicals released during anger can feel like muscular tension that needs releasing,” says Rich Pfeiffer, Ph.D., a Sedona, Arizona-based psychologist. Hit the gym to keep your limbs loose and your mind open.

Take action. Anger strikes when we feel powerless. Whether you’re outraged by disease in Africa or the latest eco-disaster, join a volunteer group to do something about it. Your mood will improve, and you may even have an impact on the problem.

For the full article at WebMD, click here.

For more information on how you can turn down the volume on your anger with the latest scientifically-proven anger management tools, visit http://drjohnsblog.wordpress.com for some free online anger management classes!

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder Guide to Self, Inc.
Emotion Expert

 P.S. For a free PDF copy of the award-winning self-help book, Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion And Thought, visit http://www.GuidetoSelf.com and enter your name and email. There are dozens of tools included to turn down the volume on anger along with the latest methods for anger management.