Men and women alike can develop anxiety for a number of reasons. Far more women than men seek treatment for their anxiety, however. Some of the reasons for this include men being ashamed of having some kind of “mental” problem, men being taught they should be tough and deal with things by themselves, and men often self-medicating with alcohol or drugs.
Specific Anxiety Symptoms in Men
There are many common symptoms of anxiety that show up in both men and women. But some of these are more frequently seen in men.
- Poor sleep. One of the most often occurring anxiety symptoms in men is not sleeping well. This can be seen as not able to go to sleep for a long time, awakening multiple times during the night, or waking up very early and not going back to sleep. Most of the time, intrusive thoughts are the culprits. Of course, not sleeping much or not sleeping well leads to men being cranky the next day. This will usually bring on more anxiety because of not getting along well with others, not being able to think clearly, and not getting good work done.
- Feeling tired. Men tend to tense up muscles when they’re anxious, leading to muscle tiredness. The lack of sleep mentioned before also contributes to tiredness. Men’s bodies react to anxiety as they do to stress. A surge of hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline) floods throughout the body, getting it ready to fight against whatever triggers this surge. Typically, once the trigger is gone, the body returns to a relaxed state. But with anxiety, the triggers continue, ultimately bringing on the feeling of fatigue.
- Stomach problems. Another of the common anxiety symptoms in men is problems with digestion. These vary from man to man, often including upset stomach, loss of appetite, and nausea. Diarrhea or constipation or an alternating of the two may also be part of this set of symptoms.
- Feeling irritable. When men experience anxiety, they also tend to get more irritable. This may be an indication of their uncertainty and fear about what they’re feeling. Minor things get to them quickly. Men in general tend to express fear through irritability.
- Headaches. A common anxiety symptom in men is headaches. A couple of possible reasons for this are high blood pressure brought on by feeling anxious or muscle tension as a result of anxiety.
- Rapid, shallow breathing. Among the common anxiety symptoms in men is rapid and shallow breathing. Sometimes this kind of breathing almost becomes panting, especially during a panic or anxiety attack. It changes body chemistry because of oxygen deprivation, often leading to headaches. This kind of breathing can become frightening, as well, and lead to more anxiety in a vicious cycle.
- Other physical symptoms. Two frequent anxiety symptoms in men that are physical are going to the bathroom to urinate more often and having a dry mouth. The former is because of muscle tension in the bladder, and the latter is due to some of the hormones released when you are anxious.
Why Do Men Have More Problems With Anxiety?
There are several reasons men have more difficulty dealing with anxiety.
No buddy system.
Women tend to have friends around them with whom they can, and do, talk. This provides them an outlet for things that make them anxious. Anxiety symptoms in men are seldom shared with their friends. Oh sure, men may have a group of other men with whom they spend time fishing, golfing, or drinking coffee. But they don’t share deep issues generally. Men see that kind of sharing as indicating weakness.
Men are taught to stand firm, suck it up and go on, hide feelings and problems. So, that’s what they do. Until the pressures and stress and anxiety mount to the point of interfering with their lives even more.
Worry begins taking over more and more of their lives, eating away at them. Fewer and fewer calm moments result. This makes it harder for men to concentrate at work and have good relationships at home. Which brings on more anxiety.
Resorting to ineffective coping strategies.
Anxiety in men pushes them to try to solve their problems themselves. This is what men are taught to do from early in life. All too often the solutions they try just make the situation worse. Men resort to drinking alcohol or using drugs as a way to relieve their symptoms. Some may turn to gambling as a way to get their minds off their anxieties. Eventually, these strategies backfire and lead to more anxiety.
What Can Men Do About Anxiety?
- Accept that they have anxiety. The first step toward effective treatment of anxiety symptoms in men is for them to acknowledge they have a problem. Putting aside pride and self-reliance is hard for some men, but necessary in order to get the help needed.
- Find a qualified professional. There are numerous good ways to deal with anxiety, but some of them require a good professional to make sure you’re doing the right thing. Seeing a psychiatrist isn’t the only way to get this good help. Professional counselors and psychologists are available to help with anxiety.
- Regular exercise. Start an exercise regimen that includes aerobics. This will help take your mind off whatever is causing the anxiety and will start releasing your body’s natural calming chemicals.
- Good nutrition. Men and women alike need good nutrition for the best functioning of all parts of your body. Lack of good nutrition can lead all kinds of physical problems that can also trigger more anxiety.
- Stay busy. Start or continue being active in hobbies of some kind. Getting active will help keep the anxious thoughts away. Sitting around the house gives you too much time to get into these thoughts that simply give way to more anxious thoughts.
- Talk about your feelings. Find someone you trust, a spouse or trusted friend, and open up about what’s going on. Holding things inside just allows them to grow bigger.