‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,’ so the familiar book by John Gray says. Men and women are different in many ways, and one key difference is how they express emotions.
Women tend to be more expressive than men. They find it easier to express their feelings as if it’s second nature for them to understand how they feel and open up about it. Whereas men, in general, are wired very differently. One of the reasons for this is that men are socially conditioned as more stoic and expected to display more strength than women.
However, emotional reactions come naturally to everyone, regardless if you’re a man or a woman. We simply don’t express it in similar ways. Following this, anxiety, depression, as well as other mental health concerns manifest in different ways for men and women.
What Does Anxiety Look Like In Men?
Anxiety is more than just a feeling or an uncomfortable sensation of nervousness or sweaty palms. In severe cases, anxiety could interfere with a person’s ability to work, to maintain relationships, and generally disable them from functioning normally.
Men are often seen as the stronger gender. Emotional vulnerability does not come easily for them. In general, men could take more time before fully understanding how they feel, so it follows that seeking help for anything they may find to be a struggle could also be very unlikely. Men have a lesser occurence of being diagnosed with anxiety than women because they rarely seek help from others. Although this doesn’t mean that men do not experience anxiety.
Men experience anxiety but may not fully understand or process it, so it manifests in unhealthy ways such as irritability, headaches, substance abuse, insomnia, muscle tension, and body pains, among others. A lot of men could express their anxiety by lashing out, bursts of anger and aggression, which aren’t very healthy for their relationships.
Depression on the other hand is associated with feelings of helplessness, despair, and sadness. But severe depression could make a person more withdrawn, numb, and generally disengaged from life and their surroundings. For men, it could manifest physically as lethargy, loss of appetite, low libido, insomnia, and substance abuse.
Men and women might be different, but we are all capable of emotional meltdowns and reactions. Emotions that are left unexpressed and unprocessed could make a person more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
5 Common Anxiety Symptoms in Men
Anxiety may show up in ways that are common for both men and women, but these five anxiety symptoms in men are noteworthy.
1.They Fear Dating
Something that anxious men have in common that does not appear to be similar to anxious women is their negative view of dating. Anxious men, especially those with social anxiety, are commonly single, divorced, separated, and generally fear dating, according to a survey from Columbia University.
Socially, men are seen as the hunters who often take the lead when it comes to dating and pursuing women, but this is a hindrance for anxious men, it appears. Dating, relationships, and eventually marriage are high-stakes endeavors that men with anxiety tend to digress, no matter how much they want it.
2.They Seem Angry
Someone once said, «anger is just sadness with nowhere to go.» Appearing sad puts men in a vulnerable state and therefore, finding angry men is a lot more common. Showing anger or rage is also more socially acceptable for men.
What many people don’t understand is that anger can be a symptom of a man’s anxiety that’s looming from within, waiting to be expressed. Spewing angry words, lashing out, and worse, violence and aggression could be unhealthy ways that anxiety wants to manifest and be acknowledged.
3.They Have Strained Relationships
It’s not always easy for men with anxiety to open up about their feelings, but if they have a romantic partner, they could run the risk of being overly dependent on their partners for emotional support and validation, with a tendency to burn them out.
Seeking support is never wrong and finding safety and sanctuary in a partnership can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of a romantic relationship. But if there isn’t balance, that is likely headed towards a toxic dynamic, which may result in strained relationships.
4.They Tend to Abuse Alcohol / Drugs
According to a study from Columbia University, substance abuse and mental health problems are correlated. They are highly connected, such that anxious men often turn to alcohol and other addictive substances to relieve the burden of their heavy emotions.
A man’s first instinct with pain is to seek relief, that is true even for emotional pain and distress. The substance serves as medicine for an ailing condition. However, the best way to treat anxiety or depression is still through professional treatment which may include therapy and medications. Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, and other substances typically leads to addiction.
5.They Obsess Over Status
Another very common symptom in men with anxiety is their obsession with material gains. Achieving status symbols and keeping up with the Joneses are behaviors that tend to be common. The immense internal pressure that comes with these unhealthy behaviors only further induces feelings of anxiety.
Most anxious men are caught within a loop of unhealthy competitive behaviors. The focus is not on the amount of wealth they’ve created, but the satisfaction derived from being in a more enviable position than another person.
Male Sexual Performance Anxiety
There is another type of anxiety that focuses primarily on sex. Male sexual performance anxiety takes the focus away from the innate pleasure of sex, as the mind interferes by generating a surge of emotions like fear, worry, stress, and nervousness.
The mind and body are inherently connected, and there isn’t a truer demonstration of this than sex. Sex is more than an engagement with the physical body. The state of our mental health plays a crucial role, too. Feelings are often at play even during a physically intimate moment and can greatly influence sexual health dysfunctions like premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.
With male sexual performance anxiety, worries in a variety of forms come up like:
- Concerns about relationship problems
- Poor/unhealthy body image
- Worries over ejaculating too soon
- Worries over not being man enough to satisfy a partner
- Thoughts about not having the ability to enjoy sex, and more
To anyone, these all seem unnecessary worries, but male sexual performance anxiety inhibits a person from fully immersing in the experience, therefore also limiting their ability to get sexually aroused, impacting their experience.
As stress heightens during sex due to the level of anxiety a man is caught up in, the level of cortisol rises, which influences the nervous system’s response to sex. Stress hormones could impact lesser blood circulation in the penis, often resulting in a man’s ability to get an erection. Finally, when anxiety takes centerstage during sex, this can hamper a person’s ability to reach orgasm. Sexual performance anxiety is made up of a loop of reactions that all get triggered when anxiety is at play.
Overcoming sexual performance anxiety is essential when it comes to beating other sexual health dysfunctions, as in some cases, it may be the primary reason why issues like erectile dysfunction could be present. While other reasons for ED are also possible, when a health issue is ruled out by the doctor, chances are high that erectile dysfunction could be mainly caused by mental health-related issues like anxiety.
Life puts all of us in a position to be vulnerable with emotional reactions, but while men and women both experience these, most of the time, men’s expression varies and is limited.
Men are equally at risk of experiencing anxiety and depression, as women. However, there are a few common symptoms of anxiety that only show up in men. Anxiety in men can create various mental health issues that may affect their everyday life, disabling them from functioning optimally. Even though men rarely seek help and guidance for their emotional struggles, awareness is often the first step towards a healthier mental state and well-being.
With telemedicine becoming more popular, mental health doesn’t have to remain a stigma. Create awareness by opening up about your struggles right within the comfort of your own home. Enjoy discretion and immense privacy while dealing with your deep issues. Healing begins when you talk about it.
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