In men, anxiety can be as much an issue as it is for women, but it can look different.
There are specific situations that can trigger anxiety. For example, if you’re in a car accident and feeling stressed or upset about it, as a man, this might turn to anger. It could lead to an altercation at the site of the accident.
There are also instances where men have a diagnosable, long-term anxiety condition such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
There are excellent treatment options available for anxiety, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Since the symptoms can be different in men and might not look like traditional anxiety, it makes them less likely to take advantage of those treatments compared to women.
The following are things to know about what anxiety in men might look like and how it can be distinctive from anxiety in women.
Anxiety can start about a specific topic, and it can then turn into an ongoing loop. Anxiety is a normal stress reaction, but it can become something more, causing adverse effects on your life.
When we first have anxiety, it can be a response to daily things in our life, and our bodies use anxiety to help get us through it. Longer-term anxiety is unrelenting nervousness or upset that’s not in response to a specific situation or trigger.
As a man, when you deal with anxiety, it can affect your physical health, relationships, and career.
Around 40 million adults in the United States are thought to have anxiety, and approximately 14% are men. Many experts believe that number is much higher but men are less likely to report or disclose their symptoms.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Men
There are, of course, ways in which men and women respond to anxiety in similar ways, but there are also differences. Part of these differences may be due to stigma. Men are more likely to see anxiety or a mental health disorder as a weakness or vulnerability, so they might fight against what they’re experiencing.
Physical anxiety symptoms for men can include headaches, sweating, and pounding heart. Men may have fatigue, sleep disturbances and gastrointestinal problems.
It can be prevalent for men with anxiety to have angry outbursts or irritability.
Men are more likely to deal with their symptoms in ways such as drinking to self-medicate, spending time online, or playing games.
When anyone tries to bury their anxiety rather than dealing with it head-on, it can worsen the problem. Men might also try to control their environment in response to their stress.
Women are more likely to talk about things bothering them and rely on a support network of friends and family compared to men. Men tend to bottle their emotions and avoid them.
Why Do Men Have Anxiety?
As we touched on above, anxiety can be caused by stress in life or traumatic experiences. It can also be due to medical issues that perhaps aren’t diagnosed and being adequately managed.
For example, diabetes, declines in hormone levels like testosterone, and heart disease are all linked to anxiety in men.
Helping a Man With Anxiety
If you have a loved one who has anxiety, what can you do?
You do have to realize there are specific things that can help with the situation more than others.
For example, don’t jump into a conversation using labels such as anxiety. Men tend not to like that, at least not initially, because it can make them uncomfortable. Honestly, that’s true of most people and not just men.
You should realize that even if the person is showing their anxiety differently, they’re still struggling, so you want to be compassionate.
Encouraging the person to talk to a mental health professional is something to do gradually, and it can take time for the person to be willing to do that.
You can provide support by being an active listener rather than judging or trying to offer advice. You can also help support the person’s healthy lifestyle, which isn’t a cure for anxiety but can be helpful. For example, men tend to do well with exercise as a way to manage anxiety, so maybe you start to work out together. The big takeaway for men and anyone is that anxiety is treatable, but untreated can lead to complications. Even if you think your symptoms look unusual, talk to a mental health professional who can help you decide on the next best steps for you.