Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but in some cases, it can elevate to a point where it negatively impacts our lives and overall well-being. While there are some general symptoms of anxiety that many people experience, the way anxiety manifests in men often differs from how it appears in women. If you believe you or someone you love may have anxiety, understanding what specific symptoms to look for can help you seek the appropriate treatment. Read on to learn about some of the most common anxiety symptoms in men.
What Are Some Common Anxiety Symptoms in Men?
In today’s society, many men feel pressured to preserve their masculinity by suppressing their emotions. While it’s common for women to share their feelings with close friends and family members, men often feel reluctant to talk about their emotional state. As a result, men with anxiety may exhibit aggressive tendencies instead of nervousness. Some other common symptoms of anxiety in men include:
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble sleeping or fatigue
- Pounding heart
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle aches and pains
These symptoms can also lead to strained relationships, especially if suppressed anxiety comes out in occasional bursts of anger. The good news is that therapists and mental health counselors can help alleviate these symptoms by working with men to teach them relaxation and coping techniques, provide talk therapy, and offer medication when necessary.
Do These Differences Impact Whether Men Seek Treatment?
Men are often less likely to realize when they are experiencing symptoms related to anxiety because they appear vastly different from the way anxiety symptoms manifest in women. Because of this, men are also less likely to be diagnosed with and receive treatment for their anxiety. In fact, the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) claims that less than half of men who have daily anxiety or depression seek help from a mental health professional. This leads to a higher risk of using drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety.
Causes of Anxiety in Men
Research shows that about one in every five men will have some form of anxiety disorder during their lifetime. However, the exact cause of anxiety can be challenging to pinpoint. For some men, anxiety may stem from ongoing stress related to finances, work, or relationships. Traumatic life events can also cause anxiety. Underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or declining hormone levels, are also important factors to consider. For example, a decrease in testosterone can result in higher cortisol levels, which increases anxiety.
Are There Different Types of Anxiety?
There are five main types of anxiety disorders that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
People who feel overwhelmed and extremely self-conscious in social situations or who avoid social gatherings due to anxiety may have SAD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is linked with unwanted obsessions, recurrent thoughts, and repetitive behaviors or compulsions.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
People who have GAD experience chronic anxiety, tension, or worry, even when it may seem like it’s unwarranted.
People who experience unexpected episodes of fear, also known as panic attacks, may have a panic disorder. These episodes may include symptoms like abdominal distress and shortness of breath.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, occurs after a traumatic life event, such as an accident or military combat.
Treatment Options for Men with Anxiety
Anxiety is curable, and there are several solutions available for men who have anxiety. Once evaluated, healthcare professionals often develop personalized treatment plans that address each person’s symptoms to help them improve their mental state and overall well-being. Some effective treatments they may incorporate include:
In many cases, making specific lifestyle changes can help men reduce and manage anxiety symptoms. Taking care of your body can help you improve your physical and mental health. Some of the lifestyle changes healthcare professionals often recommend include:
- Taking vitamins and supplements
- Practicing meditation or breathing exercises
- Getting more sleep
- Eating a healthier diet
- Exercising daily
- Avoiding trippers, such as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine
- Journaling to express anxious thoughts and feelings
In addition to suggesting lifestyle changes, many healthcare professionals recommend therapy to help men identify the root cause of their anxiety and overcome their symptoms. This can be a cathartic and healing process. Certain types of therapy may be more effective than others for different types of anxiety disorders. A few therapies that are often effective for anxiety in men include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of therapy involves identifying and challenging negative thought patterns to alter a person’s point of view, emotional responses, and behaviors over time.
- Talk therapy: This approach provides patients with the opportunity to talk with a trained healthcare professional to better understand their feelings and behaviors.
- Exposure therapy: This type of treatment involves helping people overcome specific fears related to their anxiety.
Medication is another treatment option that may work well for some men who have anxiety. For example, if a decline in testosterone is the root cause of a man’s anxious feelings, a healthcare professional may recommend testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to balance their hormone levels and alleviate their symptoms. Other common medications used to treat anxiety include benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and buspirone. Deciding whether to take medication for anxiety is a personal decision and one that should be discussed openly with a healthcare professional.
It’s also important to note that the best solution is often a combination of different therapy techniques. For example, a prescription for a short-term medication may offer immediate relief from anxiety symptoms, while cognitive behavioral therapy and certain lifestyle changes may provide a long-term solution.
How Can Men Get an Accurate Diagnosis if They Have Anxiety?
Seeking professional help for anxiety is a sign of courage, not weakness. Qualified healthcare professionals can review anxiety symptoms, rule out potential medical conditions, and recommend treatment options. If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, our staff at NeuroHealth can work with you to develop a diagnosis and an action plan. We offer neuropsychological assessments and treatments of people of all ages in the Arlington Heights area. Feel free to give us a call at (847) 499-1604 or contact us to schedule your first appointment. We’re here to help you heal.