Anxiety is a mental health issue that people around the world experience—men and women alike. Anxiety in men, however, is often unrecognized or left untreated due to society’s pressures for men to suppress their feelings and emotions, minimize pain, and be mentally “strong.” Anxiety is treatable, so talking to a mental health professional can drastically improve how you feel.
Signs of Anxiety In Men
Anxiety tends to look different in men than it does in women. Men who are experiencing anxiety may begin to act angry, use drugs to feel better, or withdraw from their social crowds.1 Often, men’s anxiety goes undiagnosed due to their tendency to downplay their problems, thoughts, and emotions. Men don’t typically reach out to talk about how they feel for fear of being judged and seen as “too sensitive,” which can lead to a build-up of a lot of issues related to a man’s mental health.
Randy Withers, LCMHC of Blunt Therapy says, “How anxiety presents in men depends on a number of factors, including personality type, ethnicity, age, and cultural affiliation. Sometimes, anxiety presents as controlling or even abusive behaviors, especially in relationships. Other men withdraw from social situations or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Many men have been conditioned to hide their emotions, so symptoms of anxiety in men can be difficult to spot.”7
Here are ten common signs of male anxiety:
- Increase in alcohol or drug consumption: Men may turn to drugs or alcohol to attempt to numb the feelings they have when experiencing anxiety.1
- Struggling in their love lives: Many men who are living with anxiety may begin to have issues in their relationships or just avoid the issues altogether.1
- Struggling to sleep: Men who have anxiety may find that they are struggling to fall asleep or cannot sleep through the whole night.2
- Constantly acting on edge: Those experiencing anxiety may find themselves constantly feeling stressed and tense, leaving them on edge basically 24/7.2
- Consistent headaches or migraines: When someone is constantly feeling on edge and has their blood pumping, they will randomly begin to experience headaches and migraines throughout the day.2
- Struggling to concentrate: Men who struggle with anxiety may also struggle to remember things and feel that their thoughts are unclear and foggy.2
- Feeling nauseous, dizzy, or sick to one’s stomach: Anxiety can leave you feeling physically sick at seemingly random intervals due to the way it physically affects your body.2
- Increased irritability or anger: The constant feelings of being on edge may leave one feeling angry or short-tempered.2
- Excessive worrying: Worrying much so that it begins to interfere with one’s quality of life.2
- Becoming too nervous to perform everyday tasks: Men experiencing anxiety may begin to feel reluctant to perform their everyday tasks.2
Signs of Anxiety in Male Teens
Anxiety in teens is typically related to issues regarding social acceptance, conflicting feelings about independence, or physical appearance.3 Teens may experience anxiety through muscle or headaches from tension, fear of attending school, and withdrawal from social activities.3,4 It is important for both teens and their parents to know the signs and symptoms of anxiety so help can be found.
Seven common signs of male anxiety in teens include:3
- Muscle cramps or random pains
- Refusal to go to school
- Nausea or stomach aches
- Headaches or migraines
- Excess fatigue
- Physical puberty-related discomforts (e.g., skin issues, excess sweating, hyperventilating, trembling, or easy startle)
- Social issues like dependency, uncomfortableness, or withdrawal
Signs of Anxiety in Middle-Aged Men
Anxiety has been found to occur most commonly in middle-aged adults.4 There are a few possible reasons for this, from physical and chemical changes in the brain to experiencing more stressful life events like the death of loved ones, financial stress, or health issues.4 It is important to watch for signs of an anxiety disorder in the middle-aged men you care about.
Four common signs of male anxiety in middle-aged men are:4
- Feelings of panic: Panic related anxiety disorders are most common in middle-aged adults.
- Excessive worrying: From worrying about work to relationship anxiety, middle-aged men experiencing anxiety tend to find themselves worrying obsessively.
- Panic attacks: A panic attack is characterized by heart palpitations, intense worrying, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and shaking.
- Social anxiety: Some middle-aged men experiencing anxiety may find themselves fearing social interactions and worrying excessively about being judged.
Signs of Anxiety in Older Men
Older men find themselves experiencing more physical symptoms of anxiety than middle-aged adults or teenagers, like feeling weak and lethargic or experiencing a racing heart.4 For this reason, it can sometimes be hard to diagnose an older adult man as having anxiety.4
Seven common signs of male anxiety in older men include:4,5
- Feeling weak
- Feeling lethargic and fatigued
- Cloudy mind
- A racing heart
- Excessive worrying and fears about safety
- Reluctance to perform everyday tasks
Causes of Male Anxiety
Withers states, “There are dozens of reasons why men develop anxiety, including medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Low testosterone levels in men are also a frequent cause of anxiety.”
Treatment of Anxiety In Men
Reaching out to a mental health professional will help you decide on the best treatment for anxiety. One important step to alleviate the symptoms of one’s anxiety is to take care of your health.6 Your physical health and mental health are closely connected and depend on one another to truly thrive.
Sometimes, people who exhibit anxiety can help relieve some of the symptoms through acts of self-care, whether that means participating in a hobby, meditating, self-regulating activities like havening, or taking a pause to focus on taking deep breaths during a particularly stressful day.6 Talking to a trusted friend or writing your tangled web of thoughts into a journal can also help to alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety.
Since men may try to deal with their anxiety with substances like alcohol or drugs, a rehabilitative program may be necessary to help them fully heal. Men also tend to feel more anger when they are feeling anxious, meaning they may also benefit from anger management courses.
Treatment for anxiety in men may include:6
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of therapy for anxiety
- Medication, if necessary
- Spending time with family and friends to feel happy and supported
- Taking care of physical health through exercise, eating healthy, and working to get enough sleep
- Cutting down on alcohol and other drugs
- Self-care activities like yoga, meditation, or journaling
Final Thoughts on Men & Anxiety
Men are often raised by society to be “strong” and swallow their emotions. This leads to many men not reporting symptoms and signs of mental health issues. Men can feel afraid that they will look “weak” if they seek help. Remember, however, that anxiety does not discriminate, and can affect anyone.
Your anxiety may leave you feeling like nobody understands what you’re going through, but it is crucial to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. Talking to a therapist or reaching out to a trusted friend or family member can make a world of difference in how you feel.