According to research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18 million adults in the U.S. develop some type of anxiety disorder every year. Nearly 1 in 10 men in the United States suffer from anxiety, but fewer than half of them seek help. In other words, if you work in an office with 20 coworkers, two of them might have anxiety, and one of them probably suffers in silence. Why? Because anxiety symptoms in men can be more difficult to pin down, making diagnosis trickier.
In this article, we’ll reveal why men visit mental health professionals less often than women, tell you how to spot anxiety symptoms and talk about why seeking help is so important.
Women are diagnosed with depression and anxiety more often than men, but men seek help less often than women. Taking those facts into account, some experts believe men are just as likely to feel anxious as women — they just aren’t being diagnosed as often.
When Sam* (name changed to protect privacy) started feeling unwell after his father passed away, he didn’t know what was going on. “I just felt on edge all the time,” he recalls, “Little things tripped my trigger — stuff I wouldn’t usually care about. My head hurt all the time and I couldn’t sleep.”
Over the following months, Sam took OTC painkillers to combat constant headaches and muscle pains that came out of nowhere. Unable to sleep properly, he frequently drank to excess. He began to experience heart palpitations, which eventually prompted him to call his primary care physician.
“I thought there was something going on with my heart,” says Sam, “I went to my doctor and they did an ECG, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. I seriously thought I might die of a heart attack.”
Sam’s experience isn’t uncommon. When men do seek help, they often assume something physical has gone wrong. Mental illness is taboo — and emotional vulnerability is seen as a weakness.
“Anxiety honestly never occurred to me. I figured I had some type of heart issue or brain cancer or something. I wore a Holter monitor for three days straight, but nothing showed up,” says Sam.
After reaching a dead end with his primary care physician, Sam decided to knuckle under and ignore his symptoms as much as possible. He kept going to work, kept taking his kids to soccer practice and kept his feelings to himself.
Finding a Way Out
Sam’s relationship with his wife took a major tumble almost a year after Sam’s father died. Frustrated with his mood swings and aggressive outbursts, she packed a bag and went to stay at her mother’s with the couple’s two young children.
Sam felt bereft. He’d reached rock bottom and began contemplating suicide.
“I called my mother one evening in November, thinking I’d say goodbye to her,” remembers Sam, emotion filling his voice, “She said I sounded so tight, so wound up. She asked if I’d tried counseling, and I told her I hadn’t.”
Sam called a well-respected therapist the next morning. “Honestly, I felt stupid. I felt like a failure when I made that call,” says Sam, “But you know, it was the best thing I ever did.”
Two days later, Sam walked into his first therapy session.
“I told him about my father dying and about everything I’d felt since then,” says Sam, recalling the appointment, “He was like, ‘I think you have anxiety.'”
Sam’s anxiety diagnosis and treatment changed his life. After a thorough consultation, his therapist prescribed a short-term course of anti-anxiety medication coupled with a mild antidepressant. Regular counseling sessions and lifestyle modifications helped Sam regain a sense of calm. It also led to a reconciliation with his wife and children.
“Honestly, I wish I’d asked for help sooner,” says Sam with a wry smile, “I guess I had to tell the macho guy in my head to sit down. I feel way better now.”
Anxiety Symptoms in Men
Almost a third of all people develop an anxiety disorder at some point. Anxiety symptoms in women tend to be pretty obvious; constant nervousness, a sense of impending danger and an increased heart rate top the list. As Sam’s story shows, anxiety symptoms in men are far harder to spot. Physical red flags include:
- Restlessness and agitation
- Dizziness or vertigo
- A racing pulse
- Shortness of breath or a choking feeling
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle tension
Emotional signs of anxiety in men include:
- Irritability and anger — a short fuse
- Trouble concentrating
- Catastrophic thinking
- Constant worry
- Feelings of dread
- Fear of losing control
Some men also have panic attacks. These sometimes include chest pain and shortness of breath, so they can feel like heart attacks.
Anxiety disorders can be debilitating if they’re left untreated. People who don’t tackle stress experience increased blood pressure and an elevated pulse, both of which can contribute to heart problems in the long term.
Feel Better with FHE
Anxiety disorder in men isn’t uncommon. Sam waited a while to seek help — but you don’t have to. If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. Finding the right type of professional help and entering an anxiety treatment program can profoundly change your life. That’s where FHE comes in.
At FHE, we use cutting-edge science and compassion to craft a unique path to recovery for every client. Anxiety treatment programs with FHE include:
We help you confront your fears in a peaceful, controlled environment. After repeated exposure sessions, you learn to tackle your fears and experience reduced stress and anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you identify negative thought patterns that occur before anxiety attacks. You learn to challenge those patterns and are able to defuse anxious feelings associated with them.
Medications can help when therapy isn’t enough. Our team of experienced doctors work with you to find the right antidepressant, benzodiazepine or other prescription medication.
If you’re experiencing telltale signs of anxiety and you want to talk with an experienced professional, call FHE Health at (833) 596-3502. Available 24/7, our team of compassionate health care professionals can help you begin your recovery journey. Take the first step today.