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...It appears that men are more likely to get depressed, whereas women suffer more financial hardship initially.

Divorce, Depression and Dads


Divorce, Depression and Dads


Mental Health: Fathers Facing Divorce Often Find it Hard to Get Help


By SARA BROWN-WORSHAM

    For many men, going through a divorce feels like a failure — and that perception often leads some of them down the long, windy road to depression.
 
“The loss of an important relationship like a marriage can be very difficult for anyone, but it appears that men are more likely to get depressed, whereas women suffer more financial hardship initially,” says Daniel Buccino, an assistant professor in Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. “Such substantial loss can trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable individuals, or depressive symptoms could have exacerbated the marital dissolution, which then get worse when the marriage is over.”  

According to a 2007 study from Statistics Canada, men appear to fare worse emotionally than women do following a divorce. The study found that men who had divorced or separated were six times more likely to report some depression compared with men who stay married. The study showed that the loss of custody and parental responsibilities were the most stressful changes for men. “Men's social lives largely revolve around their spouses and family, and when that is disrupted, it can leave men more isolated and prone to depression,” says Buccino.


This was certainly true for Dave Taylor, a separated father of three who is in the midst of a divorce after 12 years of marriage. Taylor admits that it would have been very easy for him to fall into a depression had he not taken steps towards prevention. “I definitely could have perceived this has a ‘I have failed,’” Taylor says. “I could spend all of my time looking back and second guessing things. After a separation, it seems like all of the past comes into question. So many hurtful things come out.” But rather than let those thoughts get the best of him, Taylor chose to fight back. “I would like to use this as an opportunity to become the best me I can be,” he says.  


GETTING SOCIAL FOR SELF-ESTEEM

For Taylor, getting out and getting social has been a boost to his self-esteem as well as an opportunity for his children to see him as an individual. “One of the challenges we had as a family was that we often changed our plans around our kids plans,” says Taylor who had a Super bowl party a couple weeks ago. The children wanted to come, but Taylor was firm in his resolution to keep it an adults only party. “It is a real blessing for them to see that their parents are real adults who need to have adult lives.”  

The custody arrangement Taylor and his wife have arranged is unique. Their three children, who range in age from four to 12, spend nights separately with their parents so that each child gets some time alone, something that was missing in their lives pre-separation. “My kids really love the one-on-one time with each of us,” says Taylor. 

And while it remains to be seen whether this arrangement is set in stone, for now it is working. Since Taylor does have at least one child six nights out of the week, the arrangement does have one drawback in that it does not allow much time for dating. But that is ok with Taylor, at least for now. “I am in no rush to move on with things,” he says. “My attention is really on myself and my kids.”  

According to Buccino, Taylor is doing the right thing for everyone. “Thinking about the best long-term interests of the children rather than the short-term needs of the father will be an effective strategy for fathers to stay connected with their children,” he says. “I have seen many men behave less than admirably after a divorce because of what they perceive to be unfair custody arrangements. Often, these custody disputes are continuations of the toxic dynamics that may have doomed the marriage in the first place, and are signs of men's continued efforts to want to control the situation entirely.” 

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