Anxiety expresses itself differently in men than women. It might look like isolation, or it might look like extreme frustration and worry. It can look like symptoms of OCD, obsessing over things or objects. There are many ways individuals can experience anxiety. Find out why the man in your life might have symptoms of anxiety that are unrecognized. Knowing the signs can help identify if he needs help.
Men are not always known for being emotionally vulnerable. This means seeking help, asking for help, or sending out feelers to people saying ‘I am not okay.’ There are varied reasons for this, but basically it comes down to nature, nurture, and some societal pressures to be seen as ‘manly’ and not ‘emotional,’ which is still kind of seen as a feminine trait.
Masculine and feminine traits are typically defined as socially and societally. There are rule-breakers, of course, but being vulnerable is healthy. It lets men open up and talk about feelings without fear of shame or rejection. Anxiety can creep up on a man, and their loved ones, because some men may still believe they should not show ‘that side of themselves.’
How Anxiety Shows Up
When anxiety appears on the scene, it likely will not look like ‘anxiety’ should look. It is going to have physical and physiological consequences. Here are a few of the things to look for:
- Overuse of substances, alcohol, food, or other means to cope
- Difficulty sleeping
- Aches and pains
- Feeling irritable or lashing out more than normal
- Expressed anger at others or towards themselves
- Difficulty in relationships
Men may tend to lean away from worry towards aggression in times of feeling anxious and nervous. If they avoid emotional expression, they are not expressing feelings in a healthy way. Bursts of anger are not unusual. Look for how things are different than normal or seem ‘off.’ This may be an indicator things are not okay.
Since vulnerability is still not widely accepted on a societal level, men may express their feelings of anxiety and depression by drinking or using drugs. There is a link between substance use and mental health disorders, particularly in men. Men may need some help to get to the root of their issues or concerns. If they are struggling with substance use, they may need a dual diagnosis program for support. Some of these tips may also be helpful:
- Offer presence, not persecution. Try not to make them feel bad about their feelings. Remain open to hearing how they feel and what they need for support.
- Let go of labels or ideals. Seek to listen first then approach them like a coach with open-ended questions
- Offer compassion in word and deed
- Point out how things could improve if help was sought after (and what it might look like to do that)
- Encourage healthy living together and being present with one another
- Offer to help them find support from 12-step groups, mental health professionals, and more. Medication and therapy can work but they have to be open to it
Anxiety disorders are increasingly common for men who are dealing with lots of stress from work and as a coping mechanism. Generally speaking, men may struggle in silence until someone offers a helping hand. Help is available for those who seek after it. Offer a helping hand to support them and see if they are willing to accept the support.
At Alta Loma Transformational Living, there is help for men with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, along with addiction and substance use. We are here to help you sort through the challenges and land on an individual plan that will get you moving forward to healing. at 866-457-3843.