Anxiety in Men
Anxiety is by far the most common mental health issue in The U.S. and in most developed countries worldwide. Paradoxically, this presents a distinct advantage for individuals suffering from anxiety because it means that there’s a wealth of research and treatment techniques backed by science and proven to be effective.
One of the interesting tidbits that research has pointed out time and time again has to do with gender differences related to anxiety. In short, we’ve learned that men and women can experience this issue in different ways. By understanding these differences, we’re better suited to address anxiety.
Unique Symptoms of Anxiety in Men
Anger and irritability: These are similar emotions that differ in intensity and duration. Anger tends to last longer and is often more deep-seated, while irritability is more acute and reactive. This is because men are less inclined to express emotions they might equate to vulnerability, such as fear or insecurity, both of which are characteristic traits of anxiety. Instead, they’ll tend to resort to anger, which gives them a greater sense of control or agency over their problems. It helps them feel less like a victim. So it’s no surprise then that when a guy feels anxious, he is much more likely to demonstrate angry outbursts.
Sexual Symptoms: An interesting paradox occurs with men struggling with anxiety and how they relate to sex. A pronounced shift in sexual desire and activity is characteristic for guys feeling anxious: a heightened sex drive or impaired performance. Sex can provide a natural and powerful high which releases feel-good hormones like dopamine. While men struggling with anxiety may turn to sex to bury their emotions, good sex requires the presence of mind which anxious dudes will lack, and it will ultimately lead to performance difficulties.
Physical Symptoms: Anxiety is psychological and physical. Think about the last time you felt highly anxious. Were you queasy? Did you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Did you have to run to the bathroom, were you unable to eat, or did you start sweating profusely? These can be some of the most substantial signs that their mental health requires some attention for men. In fact, men are more likely to visit an M.D. to address these physical symptoms of anxiety without even realizing that what they’re actually dealing with is a mental and emotional issue.
Dangerous behaviors: Remember the dopamine rush that comes from sex that helps to bury their anxiety? Well, the same is true for other, more dangerous (and possibly even addictive) behaviors. Porn, gambling, unprotected sex, compulsive video game, drugs, or even increased alcohol consumption are all behaviors that can also supply that rush of dopamine and therefore tend to spike in men struggling with anxiety, whether they’re aware of it or not.