Gender Differences in the Experience of Depression in the Family Context

Lianne M. Kurina, University of Chicago
Barbara Schneider, University of Chicago
Linda Waite, University of Chicago

Depression is a common illness that interferes with social functioning. We developed a gender-sensitive model of depression in the family context based on self-in-relation theory and gender role theory. We tested the model using psychological, emotional, and relational data collected from parents and their adolescent children from nearly 200 families across the United States in the Sloan 500 Families Study. Our results confirm the presence of gender differences in the emotional experience of depression; women experienced greater inward negativity while men experienced greater outward negativity. We observed stronger associations between spousal depression and marital satisfaction in wives than in husbands and we found that while depression was associated with negative feelings about parenting in both mothers and fathers, only depressed fathers spent less time talking with or engaged in activities with their adolescent children, consistent with the stronger constraints on maternal behavior predicted by our model.

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Presented in Session 71: Family and Health Over the Life Course