Recognizing early warning signs of anxiety in men

While women are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, men also suffer the consequences of this disorder. Making the situation even worse for men is that guys are less likely to receive treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety. Seeking help, especially for an anxiety disorder, would be viewed as a sign of weakness among men. That’s why men with anxiety often suffer in silence, negatively impacting their lives. 

What are the symptoms of anxiety in men? 

The differences between women with anxiety and men can be striking. For example, women experiencing anxiousness may come across as overly worried or will completely avoid situations that frighten them. 

Anxiety in men looks different from anxiety in women. One reason is that men have suppressed feelings or displays of anxiety from when they were young. It is more ‘manly’ to show strength and courage than to show feelings of perceived weakness. That’s why men experiencing anxiety without expressing their feelings may exhibit itself differently – headaches, sleep difficulties, muscle aches, pains, using alcohol or drugs to cope, or even anger and irritability.

Other physical signs of anxiety in men may include the following:

  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Shortness of breath or choking sensations
  • Panic attacks

Emotionally, men may manifest anxiety by becoming more absentminded or having difficulties concentrating, exhibiting dread over a situation, avoiding certain situations, or showing fear of losing control. 

Anxious men often let their feelings build up until they reach a breaking point where they can’t hold back anymore. That’s why some men with anxiety may feel rage or anger as it may seem more acceptable. In addition, anxious men are more likely to experience relationship strains than women. Women rely more on expressing their feelings with close friends, while men tend to have few confidants to support them when emotionally distressed. Men with anxiety may also obsess over their financial or social status. Even very successful men are often anxious about getting ahead of their peers, and when they see other men advancing in their careers, it only fuels their anxiety disorder. 

Treatments for anxiety in men

The first thing for men to know is anxiety is a normal human feeling and condition. But when it becomes severe and pervasive, impairing and affecting their work and relationships, it can cross over into a disorder. But, just like any medical condition, there are ways to manage and recover from an anxiety disorder. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CAB) is one method that is a well-researched and effective treatment for anxiety disorders. CAB can help men learn to alter their thinking, leading to anxiety, and to effectively seek out better approaches in situations they are feeling anxious about.  

Men seeking treatment for anxiety may also prefer avoiding diagnostic labels such as “anxiety disorder.” Rather than using the word anxiety, which can make some men feel uncomfortable, those performing treatment for men with anxiety may call it instead “coaching” or “help with performance,” focusing on whatever distress may be causing their feelings.

Other treatments for anxiety in men may include discussing with their primary care physician, who can be a good source of information. In addition, these same doctors can evaluate men to help distinguish between anxiety and depression and together work out an action plan. 

Lifestyle changes are other helpful ways to reduce anxiety in men. Spending more time with supportive friends, getting regular exercise, tackling any sleep issues, eating a healthy diet, and cutting back on alcohol and positive ways help reduce anxiety symptoms. Helping men find activities or hobbies they enjoy can be especially helpful in the long term. 

For spouses or friends of a man with anxiety, here’s how to show support:

  • Listen to them without judgment
  • Offer to go with them to a doctor or health professional or help them make the appointment.
  • Discourage the use of alcohol or drugs to make themselves feel better
  • Invite them out to eat, keep in touch with them, but also don’t pressure them to participate in activities 
  • Ask about how they are feeling – encourage men to have a regular sleep schedule, exercise and eat a healthy diet

Anyone who suspects or knows a man with anxiety needing support should talk to a doctor about getting professional help. 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.

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