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Alcoholism & Addiction

Three Patterns Typical Among Couples who Deal with Male Depression

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found there are three different patterns that emerge in couples who are dealing with male depression. They can be described as "business as usual," "edgy tensions" and "trading places."

The findings referred to in Science Daily show how gender roles among heterosexual couples experience radical strains when the male partner experiences depression and the female tries to help. Depression is most often thought of as being a "woman’s" health issue and is often underreported among men. Therefore, little is known about how heterosexual couples handle it when the male is depressed.

The study underscores that women play an important role in helping their male partner manage depression. Since relationships are fundamental to how health decisions are made within the family dynamic, we need more research to better understand those dynamics.

The study found the "trading places" scenario to be most common pattern in heterosexual relationships. Partners typically took on atypical female and male roles in order to cope with the challenges created by the male’s depression. In these cases, men took on the homemaker role and the women went to work as the breadwinner.

In the "business as usual" scenario, the couples downplayed the problems caused by the male’s depression and held firm to gender roles despite the male’s struggle with depression as they maintained their careers.

In the "edgy tensions" pattern, the couples were caught in dysfunctional relationships. Each already held ideas of gender roles that differed from their partner’s view and they wrestled with resentment. Men often were involved with alcohol or illicit drugs to manage their depression.

The study was conducted on men from 20 to 53 years of age who had differing levels of education, from some high school to graduate level degrees.

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