More than 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from an anxiety disorder. That comes out to just over 19%. About one in five men will experience anxiety in their life, but they’re less likely to talk about it than women, perhaps because of the negative stigma around mental health. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by constant worrying that’s challenging to control. It can cause significant impairment and make it difficult to get through ordinary, everyday tasks. In fact, it can be downright debilitating.
Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, which might make it more difficult to pin down. Let’s talk about five things you might find in a man with anxiety.
Don’t forget to read our blog on eight signs you might be a woman with anxiety.
Anxiety can look different from individual to individual. Here are a few ways it might present in men.
Anxiety often goes hand in hand with irritability and tension. It’s easier to understand, then, why men struggling with anxiety might display outbursts of anger and frustration.
For instance, imagine that a child left their toys in the middle of the living room after playing and didn’t clean up after themselves. If the father suffers from anxiety and is irritable or tense at baseline, something small (like finding a mess in the living room) could trigger an angry outburst. These individuals might have a harder time keeping their emotions in check—and that’s their anxiety talking. It’s not necessarily representative of how they truly feel.
With how keyed-up anxiety can make one feel, it might come as a surprise that anxiety in men can manifest as constant fatigue. The two sensations should seemingly cancel each other out, but they don’t.
Someone might feel restless and on edge but at the same time, tired and sluggish. And when they lay their head down at night, instead of finally catching up on sleep, they can’t seem to drift off and stay asleep. Their mind is relentlessly racing from thought to thought, from their grocery list to something they said four years ago that they’re suddenly embarrassed by. And so, they wake up the next morning still feeling drained.
Someone may know they have things to do today, but when they sit down to tackle their to-do list, it’s like they can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds. Racing thoughts can be very debilitating. If the ability to focus is a major problem, it may be anxiety. While it’s frustrating and even upsetting, understand that this is a common manifestation of anxiety in men
Something goes wrong and while logically, someone knows it’s not that big of a deal, their heart starts to race. Their stomach churns. Their chest might even get tight. Their mind finds all new reasons to worry, and the anxiety just gets worse. And while they’re experiencing this panic at the moment, they quickly extrapolate it to how this single moment could negatively affect their future. Then, they start stressing about that, worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s a domino effect that threatens to consume them completely.
Decades of research have shown that anxiety disorders and substance abuse co-occur at rates too high for it to be a coincidence. Maybe people do it to self-medicate, or perhaps it helps them feel calmer in social settings. Either way, when your nerves are fried, they might first reach for a drink to self-soothe.
Even if it calms them at the moment, they might notice that once the effects have worn off, they not only go back to feeling anxious but perhaps even worse than they did in the first place.
While there are still many unanswered questions when it comes to why we experience anxiety the way we do, there is still help all around you. Medication is one option. Drugs used to treat depression can also help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, even if you’re not experiencing depression along with it.
Another common approach to treating anxiety? Therapy. Your mental health provider might recommend psychotherapy — sometimes called talk therapy. Psychotherapy involves talking with your provider about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that they can help you uncover healthier ways to cope.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically—which is a type of psychotherapy—is a viable way to address your anxiety. CBT is going to look at the relationship between your negative thoughts, behaviors, and physical responses to certain situations and triggers.
Depending on your own personal experience with anxiety, your provider might recommend a combination of therapy and medication. It’s important to speak with a licensed professional to start creating the best path for you.
Cerebral is here to help. Looking for support in your fight against anxiety? Start with our free emotional assessment so that we can learn more about you.
Reviewed by: Dr. Aneel Ursani, MD