Surviving men's depression: women partners' perspectives

Joan L Bottorff, John L Oliffe, Mary T Kelly, Joy L Johnson, Joanne Carey
Health (London) 2014, 18 (1): 60-78
While men's gendered experiences of depression have been described, the perspectives of women partners who are affected by men's depression have received little attention. Women partners were recruited to explore how men's depression impacts them and its influence on gender regimes. Individual interviews with 29 women spouses were coded and analysed. Although idealized femininity positions women as endlessly patient and caring, our findings reveal significant challenges in attempting to fulfil these gender ideals in the context of living with a male partner who is experiencing depression. The strain and drain of living with a depressed man was a key element of women's experiences. Four sub-themes were identified: (1) resisting the emotional caregiver role, (2) shouldering family responsibilities, (3) connecting men to professional care and (4) preserving the feminine self. The findings suggest that men's depression has great potential to dislocate heterosexual gender regimes, and attention to gender relations should be included to ensure successful care management of men who experience depression.

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