Exposing Anxiety Symptoms in Men and How to Quash Them

Written by Daniel Steingold on October 3, 2016

We’ll all experience anxiety in some form in our lives, but for some of us, it can become a significant impediment to completing simple daily tasks.

Although the incidence of anxiety doesn’t vary much amongst different age groups— for example, teenagers experience it just about as much as 41-to-60 year olds— it is much less likely for the average man to suffer from an anxiety disorder than for a woman.

Studies show that not only do women suffer from anxiety disorders at twice the rate of men, but they show up at a younger age. Women are also more likely to suffer from another accompanying mental disorder, such as depression.

The fact that disabling anxiety has traditionally been seen as a “woman’s disease,” can ultimately lead to a relative lack of respect and care for men who suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Let’s start this post by defining what qualifies as an anxiety disorder. From there, we’ll go into the best ways to manage anxiety issues.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are a type of mental illness that, fortunately, can be treated.

Generally, they’re broken down into one of four categories, being:

  • Panic disorder

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

  • Specific phobias; and

  • Social anxiety disorder

Panic disorder usually manifests itself quickly and unexpectedly. It can lead to feelings of terror, and physical symptoms such as sweating, chest pain, feelings of choking, and heart palpitations.

Generalized anxiety disorder is usually just unbridled anxiety over minor triggers.

Social anxiety consists of heightened levels of worry and self-consciousness when it comes to social situations. It may manifest itself in the form of a fear of being judged, or behaving in a manner that will lead to embarrassment.

Phobias are intense fears of certain activities or things. The level of fear is usually highly exaggerated, and can lead to the avoidance of common situations. Common phobias include the fear of heights, airplanes, and spiders.

It is important to note that multiple anxiety disorders can present themselves concurrently in any given individual.

How to Manage an Anxiety Disorder

As should be clear, anxiety disorders should not be taken lightly, and this post should not replace any medical treatment.

With that being said, there are definitely ways to help you control your anxiety on your own. As anxiety disorders are often triggered by environmental factors, you will often find that creating a more hospitable home or office, for example, goes a long way.

Here are some tips for how you can settle yourself down during an episode:

  • Get into the flow.

    Psychologists often speak of a space of true creativity and immersion called “flow”; being in this state of mind can help you get out of an anxious spell. Try taking a walk, meditating, getting a massage, reading, listening to music, deep breathing, drawing or doing whatever else you can when you’re stressed. Taking your mind off the trigger can only help.

  • Eat regularly.

    Eating balanced meals at regular intervals can help tremendously with managing anxiety. This is a form of taking control of your lifestyle, and regularity can reduce symptoms. Snacking isn’t a bad idea either, but it should consist of healthy foods, and not replace standard meals.

  • Limit stimulants.

    Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can worsen anxiety over time, even if they help in the moment.

  • Exercise daily.

    Working out can not only alleviate symptoms for hours at a time, but it can reduce the incidence of anxiety over time.

  • Sleep sufficiently.

    While it is easy to dismiss sleep, it’s extremely important, as study after study shows. Some research has shown that for those with GAD, almost half of sufferers have sleep issues.

  • Don’t dismiss your anxiety.

    It’s all too easy to want to completely dismiss your anxiety, or criticize it as something that you shouldn’t be feeling. Acknowledging and accepting your thoughts and feelings, while explaining to yourself why they are not a big deal, is a great way to lessen an episode.

  • Keep a positive attitude.

    When you feel like you could have an anxiety episode at any given time, it can be difficult to stay positive. The Catch-22, however, is that by keeping a negative attitude, you’re only keeping the door open.

  • Laugh.

    Laughing not only puts us in a good mood, but it can help us realize that whatever we were worrying about probably wasn’t a big deal. Humor can assist in confronting and addressing painful topics.

  • Write.

    Reflecting upon why you’re feeling the anxiety you’re feeling in a journal can help with addressing its causes. Over time, a noticeable pattern should emerge.

  • Talking to others.

    Much like journaling, talking to others can expose us to perspectives or patterns that we may not have seen otherwise. After all, two heads are better than one.

  • Set limits.

    If you know that you’re sensitive to a particular trigger, don’t willingly expose yourself to it for too long. If you have the tendency to push yourself too hard, set realistic goals, and be happy with whatever the outcome ends up being.

  • Be active.

    Being active, in this sense, means doing something in your community. Volunteer, go to local events, etc. It’ll let you meet new people, while taking your mind off of your struggles.

  • Visualization.

    Visualization and other active relaxation techniques can help with calming the mind and creating more positive perceptions of reality. They can help you eventually deal with stress in a more natural manner.

There are literally hundreds of approaches to dealing with stress and anxiety, but hopefully this provides a good jumping-off point.

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