How Does Anxiety Affect Men?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems in the world. While they tend to affect women more than men, men are still largely affected. Due to different social and biological factors, men’s experiences of anxiety, from coping styles to treatment-seeking behaviors, differ from those of women.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fear and worry and behavioral problems. They understand:

In 2019, 301 million people worldwide were living with an anxiety disorder, including 58 million children and adolescents. Estimates to suggest that women are more affected than men; 23.4% of women experience anxiety in any given year in the United States, and the same is true for 14.3% of men.

Although common in men, anxiety disorders have been largely overlooked in the men’s mental health literature, meaning there is little high-quality research on the topic.

Medical News Today spoke with four mental health experts on topics ranging from how anxiety is expressed differently in men and women, to how men seek treatment and what could improve the way they thinking about illness and asking for help.

A 2021 review of 25 studies looking at anxiety in men found that anxiety symptoms differ between men and women.

Researchers found that men report increased anxiety and are more likely to report physical symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite and body tremors, as well as feelings of loss of control compared to women in the same age.

They also found that anxiety in men tends to focus on feelings of lack of control and the perception of being “a failure” if they are unable to regain control of anxiety states. Men also often describe their symptoms as “persistent, pervasive, and sometimes permanent.”

While mild anxiety has been associated with better cognitive performance, severe anxiety has been associated with reduced cognitive function. Other research suggests that anxiety disorders are linked to lower quality of life and reduced social functioning.

To research has sometimes found differences in the emotion regulation strategies of men and women. Thus, this suggests that some men may tend to return to problem-based coping more often, while some women might opt ​​for more avoidant coping strategies, such as seeking emotional support.

Although problem-based coping strategies can be effective in controllable or adjustable situations, they can to fall into pieces if these conditions are not met. At this point, men are more likely than women to “self-medicate” as a form of avoidance behavior.

“Often, men can use alcohol, tobacco, and other over-the-counter and prescription medications to reduce or control the experience and symptoms of anxiety,” said Dr. Derek M. Griffith, founder and director of the Center for Men’s Health Equity and professor of health systems administration and oncology at Georgetown University said DTM.

“Men may imagine the worst possible scenario and reason that it’s wiser for them to avoid a situation because that scenario may be possible,” he added.

When asked why men may use problem-based coping more than women, Dr. Thomas Fergus, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, said DTM that how boys and girls learn to manage their emotional states may play a role in coping styles.

He noted that women are generally socialized focus on emotional states more frequently than men, and men are more socialized to focus on problem solving and dealing with their negative emotions.

“Men are less likely to access anxiety treatments through typical medical pathways and less likely to seek initial treatment,” said Lee Chambers, psychologist and wellness consultant in conversation with DTM.

“Stereotypical masculine traits play a role in reducing the chances that a man will voice his challenges, seek out additional support, and stay connected to the treatment provided,” he added.

A study found that young men’s reluctance to seek help for anxiety stems from issues of confidentiality, perceived stigma, self and peer judgment, and the assumption that it won’t help.

The same study also found that young men report a lack of understanding of anxiety disorders, resulting in limited knowledge of treatment options and seeking care.

Dr Griffith said:

“It is only in recent decades that low rates of medical help-seeking among men have been seen as a problem. Historically, male help-seeking rates were considered the norm, and females were seen as abusers of services. While not unique to anxiety, men are more likely than women to delay seeking help and endure minor symptoms for fear of wasting doctor’s time or failing as a man. .

“Part of the challenge of understanding how men feel about anxiety and other aspects of mental or physical health. For many men, anxiety is something they would only seek help for when it interferes with their performance at work or their ability to fulfill other roles and responsibilities. Even then, it’s not uncommon for men to see anxiety as something they just need to deal with rather than something that can be treated by a professional,” he added.

“From a proactive perspective, men can seek to foster emotional resilience by striving to communicate and express their emotions in healthy ways, manage their stress levels, and improve their self-esteem,” Chambers said.

“Developing healthy relationships gives more space for self-expression, and focusing on the fundamentals of eating well, sleeping optimally, and moving their bodies can provide the emotional balance to increase self-care and compassion. “, he continued.

Dr. Danielle Cooper, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said DTM that working to eliminate the stigma around mental health could help more men seek treatment.

“Given the existing stigma surrounding mental health, some people may cling to unhelpful beliefs that asking for help or having anxiety is weak or believing that psychotherapy will not be helpful,” a- she noted.

“People can benefit from learning that anxiety itself is adaptive and can be useful, for example in improving performance or motivating behavior. When anxiety becomes less useful and more bothersome, the search for treatment is important.Anxiety disorders are often maintained, in part, by avoidance.It takes a lot of strength and courage to face fears, not weakness.

– Dr. Danielle Cooper

Chambers agreed that breaking the stigma around mental health was crucial: “More men are talking openly about anxiety in society and sharing their stories, and that can often be a flag in the sand for d other men come forward and be honest about their current situation. feelings.”

“Seeing openness as a brave step towards strength in being vulnerable is at the heart of projects around the world, and there is more strength in sharing than we often realize,” he concluded. .

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