Men and Anxiety – Why So Many Men Suffer in Silence

 

 

While studies show that women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms than men, there is a silent epidemic happening as we speak and men everywhere including someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety in silence.  Accepting anxiety and taking action to manage symptoms tends to be difficult for men and that’s why so many suffer in silence.

Men have been brought up to be tough, manage pain and take care of their family and situations without complaining or feeling stressed, they’ve heard expressions such as ‘toughen up’,’ boys don’t cry’ and ‘be brave and strong no matter what’.  One in every six men will experience anxiety symptoms and one in eight men will experience depression.  These illnesses will often go untreated in men as they are less likely to communicate how they’re feeling.

 

BALANCING ACT FOR MEN TOO 

We often speak about women balancing work, home, and family, but rarely focus on men having these same stresses,  trying to balance it all and stay emotionally well.  And when we talk about achieving overall wellness, the focus tends to lead to women and their self-care.   Health and wellness are as equally important for a man as it is for a woman.  More men in this day and age are pitching in with responsibilities in the home and taking care of the kids all while working full time themselves, so it’s only natural that they would be faced with the same stresses as a woman.

 

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Look around, you’d be hard-pressed to find many men talking about self-care and wellness, why is that?  Why are topics such as erectile dysfunction, testicular self-exams, rectal exams, male friendships, loneliness and anxiety symptoms rarely discussed by men?   Some may say that it tarnishes their masculinity, that it shows weakness and vulnerabilities that men just aren’t willing to expose.  But the hard and fast truth is, when men don’t focus on their emotional and physical health it is resulting in some pretty alarming statistics.

 

STAGGERING STATISTICS THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says that among Canadians of all ages four of every five suicides are male.  In the U.K men are three times more likely to die by suicide than a woman and in New South Wales, Australia, suicide has overtaken car accidents as the leading cause of death in males since 1991.  Are these statistics as surprising to you as they are to me?  This is a worldwide epidemic and now more than ever we need to focus on supporting men by promoting their self-care and emotional wellness.

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4 STEPS MEN CAN TAKE TO REDUCE NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF ANXIETY

We can encourage the men in our lives to take an active role in their overall wellness.  There are steps that men can take to help reduce negative effects of anxiety symptoms and it’s important that we as a society continue to bring awareness to men everywhere that emotional health, loneliness, and stress are common situations and not a sign of weakness.  Let’s have a look at some these steps that can be taken to help reduce anxiety

1. Develop a regular exercise habit ( 4 – 6 times per week).  This stimulates endorphins which will improve mood and make a person more relaxed.  It shifts the focus away from fears, obsessions, and overly self-conscious reactions

2. Adopt a healthy nutritious diet – this will contribute to emotional and physical wellness

3. Get out of the house and participate in hobbies or activities that bring joy.  Being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine helps anxieties to subside

4. Confront anxiety symptoms head-on by talking to someone you trust, a family member, close friend or professional

5. Try meditating, now I’m sure many of you men are thinking, yeah right!  No thank you, but technology has come a long way and you can now meditate with a Muse headband.  This device translates your mental activity into weather sounds to help you achieve calmness and relaxation.  To learn more about the muse headband, click here

Taking an active role by following these steps could very well reduce anxiety symptoms and help men improve their overall health and wellness.

 

WHAT MEN SHOULD NOT DO WHEN SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY 

Many men experiencing anxiety symptoms will not acknowledge the depth of what they’re feeling and may not even be able to put a name to it.  I’m sure that men have heard the term anxiety but would some men know what to look for when it comes to symptoms?  Could what they are experiencing be an anxiety disorder? As a result of this lack of knowledge or hidden experiences often men will never seek out the treatment needed to overcome their symptoms.

If men are experiencing anxiety symptoms, or what they think maybe anxiety symptoms, here are some things that they should NOT
do

  • Try to tough it out – this ultimately feeds into the anxiety making symptoms stronger
  • Hide it from friends and loved ones – social support helps to cope with symptoms and circumstances, talking can help reduce symptoms
  • Do not think of yourself as weak, anxiety is an emotional response to an event or stressful occurrence and should be seen as a call to action, not shame and embarrassment
  • Turn to drugs and alcohol – 1 fifth of anxiety sufferers turn to substances to numb symptoms and feelings of anxiety and men make of the majority of this group.  Anxiety disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand

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HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY

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Our focus topic in this article is achieving wellness for men however these steps below can be used when supporting anyone through anxiety symptoms

  • Spend time with them and listen to their experiences without judgment
  • Help them seek out information about what they are feeling by going to a health center or checking out websites
  • Encourage them to seek help from their doctor or therapist
  • Offer to go to appointments with them and follow up afterward
  •  Discourage the use of drugs and alcohol

 

 

ACCEPTANCE LEADS TO TREATMENT WHICH LEADS TO WELLNESS

Anxiety disorders are treatable conditions and if suffering from overwhelming symptoms, it’s important to seek out professional help.  Don’t let pride get in your way.  By opening up honestly about what your experiencing, it can take a load of stress off your shoulders and give you an opportunity quite possibly to connect with others experiencing the same thing.

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Men everywhere need to learn to become more accepting of how they’re feeling and versed in self-care and not be judged for doing so.  Anxiety is not a sign of weakness but a force that requires taking action head-on, because we’re all ultimately responsible for our own wellness.  And while we’re working toward overall wellness, let’s lift each other up in the process.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this discussion or the experiences you may have had.

 

 

22 thoughts on “Men and Anxiety – Why So Many Men Suffer in Silence”

  1. Great read!
    My husband and I are in the habit of every evening telling each other how our day has been – the good and the bad, and this has really helped both of us. For him it’s a way of getting the bad off of his chest without seeming like he’s complaining or feeling weak.

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda

      That’s fantastic that you and your husband take that special time at the end of each day to reflect on the day, the good and bad. Not only does it sound like it gives him an opportunity to open up about things that he may be feeling but it sounds like that’s a great relationship builder. Love it!

      Thanks for the comment

      Tracy

      Reply
  2. Afternoon Tracy,

    I took an interest in your article as I for one have been prone to stress and anxiety issues in the past into present day and do try to actively keep the tears, emotions and episodes away. I found I suffered more in my thirties when I wasn’t that bothered about self care, nor was I educated in the symptoms and feelings I was experiencing.

    To this day I have got through a book called ‘The End of Stress’ by Andrew Bernstein, I’ve had CBT therapy and got interested in this that much took a course on CBT. I’m all about positive-thinking and only trying to control what’s immediately surrounding me and not others’ or worldwide issues. I’m not your typical “alpha male” so what you write about regarding “weakness”, “toughening” up etc rings true. As Jude Law’s character ‘Graham’ says in ‘The Holiday’ (2006) movie, “A good book, a great film, a birthday card. . . I weep. I am a major weeper.”

    Your article’s first impression to me was that of calm with a calming, pastel colour scheme and images that aren’t too vibrant or intense. I found the “4 STEPS MEN CAN TAKE TO REDUCE NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF ANXIETY” of interest and overall the article is informative, well written and seems to be coming from someone professional, in the know or perhaps a past or present victim of something similar.

    Steve

    Reply
    • Hi Steve

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you shared some of your experiences regarding stress and anxiety, sounds like you you’ve taken some steps to overcome those feelings and emotions which is fantastic. My fiancee too gets a little weepy during certain movies or birthday cards, it’s actually quite touching if you ask me, to me a strong man is one that can open up and share what he is feeling 🙂

      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

      Tracy

      Reply
  3. Your post is right on the mark and i do agree with you that men should forget that notion of being tough and not showing any feelings or emotions. They should take care of themselves and not feel judged to do so. You touched on the major points. It is well written and you did a good job. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Hi Lawrence,

      Thanks for the comment, my hope is that the more we discuss topics like this in open forums, that more men may become more comfortable in opening up. Thank you for the positive feedback on the post.

      All the best

      Tracy

      Reply
  4. This is a great share. I like that you have hit a subject many would consider taboo. Men have far too long taken on the strong look.

    I suffer from anxiety, have my whole life. But it’s only gotten worse since my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Being strong for her has been hard on me. Yet I still do it.

    But many times I wonder the what-ifs. We have five children together who are still unmarried. It scares me to think when I start thinking about my wife’s battle with the disease.

    She ‘s a pretty strong person, fighting hard. But me not so much, sometimes even she can tell that I can’t deal with what is going on.

    I just don’t get it how we men are supposed to hold ourselves together when things fall apart. Anxiety becomes another coping method. Maybe that’s why we don’t show it as much.

    Reply
    • Hi Eric
      I can’t imagine what you must be going through. Supporting a loved one through a health challenge is certainly stressful, and I feel for your wife too, my goodness you both must be under a great deal of pressure and anxiety. I would encourage the both of you to reach out for support if you haven’t already done so, and be sure to take a time out for yourself, this is how you’ll gain strength to continue to support your wife.
      I wish your family all the best

      Warm Wishes

      Reply
  5. Hi, thanks for the great read. I try my best to communicate with loves ones and they have tried their best to communicate their feelings too. My husband sometimes has a hard time because of old bad habits but he knows that I’m always there to listen and to help him out (or anyone else) as best as I can. I agree with what you wrote and I thank you for this great article!

    Reply
    • Hi Sandyness
      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad that you and your loved ones communicate with each other, try to always keep those lines of communication open. Often men have a more difficult time opening up and allowing themselves to become vulnerable as they see themselves as the protector and think that any sign of vulnerability is a sign of weakness which it is most definitely not. Continue to encourage your husband to open up and let him know that he’s not alone, continue to be there for him and remind him that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of courage and strength.

      All the best to you
      Tracy

      Reply
  6. I LOVE that you talk about how anxiety isn’t there to be stifled but is actually a call to action. I think so much in our day and age tells us to ‘tough it out’ and this is especially so with men. Anything that encourages men to embrace their feelings and know that they are not alone is a hugely good thing.

    I also struggle with anxiety and from experience it’s like a hamster wheel, the more you don’t deal with it, the more it just keeps gaining momentum so I think your suggestions are great. Really admire you writing on a topic as well that is far too often swept under the rug. Great read.

    Reply
    • Hi Natalie

      I appreciate your feedback. As an anxiety sufferer myself I totally get it. Dealing with the underlying issues why we are suffering from these anxieties is key, and being able to fully express how we’re feeling and how we’re impacted by the anxieties should be something that is embraced and we should never be judged for it the.
      Thanks again for taking the time to stop by site.

      All the best to you

      Tracy

      Reply
  7. Hello Tracy,

    and thanks for an informative and well-written article! It makes you think about a lot of things, and a lot of your advice is quite tangible. I think you really hit the nail on the head here, and many men suffering from anxiety and/or depression will their utmost to suppress this, because that’s what they’re taught to do!

    Personally I don’t suffer from any of these, but it was really enlightening to read this, and it made me realise I need to be more aware in regards to the people around me. The “do’s” and “do not’s” are very helpful!

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work!
    Joachim

    Reply
    • Hi Joachim

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. I’m pretty confident when I say you probably know someone who is suffering from anxiety and depression but you have no idea because they haven’t disclosed for fear of rejection or judgement. I too have become more aware of people around me (men in particular) who may be displaying abnormal behaviors or withdrawal. We need to support one another in achieving wellness in our lives.

      Thanks again for the comment 🙂

      All the best to you

      Reply
  8. Hi, I think this is a really valuable and important topic which you outline and highlight very accurately the reasons why men find it harder to speak up and even recognise their symptoms. The stats are appalling and raise so many flags that show this important issue needs to be addressed at so many levels. I often wonder about the levels of domestic violence and if this also shows signs of anxiety or depression in men where the male is the perpetrator. Often when one isn’t coping in one area, such as with emotions such as anxiety and depression, it often comes out in other areas of one’s life such as interpersonal relationships and lower tolerance levels to stress. We need to teach our children the normality of feelings for both boys and girls as well as talk about feelings with partners, family, friends. If this is too hard for someone, encourage them to see a professional as you have shared. Thanks for a valuable and important post.

    Reply
    • Hi Kat

      I totally agree with what you’ve said in your comment. And most definitely these issues need to be addressed on so many levels. My goal is to ensure that the information is communicated and that hopefully it generates some conversation.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Tracy

      Reply
  9. Hi Tracy,
    Love this article, your points are all so true and valid.
    In my case, I think my husband takes on much more stress than I do, since he is the one keeping the regular job, while I am trying to build up my own business, which can sometimes mean not so consistent income.

    I can sense that men are generally less vocal about stuff that cause them anxiety. But they vent it out in different ways. My husband prefers to exercise, he goes jogging regularly, and it really helps with de-stressing.

    I have 3 sons, and I am consciously teaching them that crying and voicing out their anxiety are not signs of weakness. I hope this helps them develop more ways of dealing with stress and anxiety as they grow up to face the world.

    Thanks for the great article!

    Reply
    • Hi Joo

      I’m so glad to hear that you are encouraging your sons to share their emotions and showing them that their feelings are not a sign of weakness. This is so important especially for our younger generation. Sounds like your husband has found some great coping strategies to deal with stresses, this also models a great example for your sons. Finances can be such such a stress for many households, it’s important to create a solid foundation to build strength and togetherness in stressful times.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      All the best to you and your family

      Tracy

      Reply
  10. It’s sad to see so many men and women going through high levels of anxiety and stress.
    Life is too short, and yet, people get caught up in all sorts of worries. The constant fight for paying the bills along with lots of other responsibilities can make people really sick. That’s the price we pay individually as a consumerist society.
    It’s easy to tell someone not to worry, but we have no idea what they have been through in their lives. It’s a very chaotic world we live in these days, and I don’t see how we can solve the root cause of all this suffering. Maybe accepting life exactly as it is could be the best solution.

    Reply
    • Hi Stefan

      You’re so right when you say, you can’t tell someone not to worry, if it were as simple as that we wouldn’t be living in a world where mental health concerns have become an epidemic. I am a firm believer that taking time for ourselves and developing our own path to wellness is key to achieving optimal health and overall well being.

      All the best

      Tracy

      Reply
  11. hello Tracy,
    your article has been quite insightful and useful, I once had an episode and I know what it takes to come out of it, thanks for providing a detailed write up on this.

    Reply
    • Hi ibrahim

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. The first experience of anxiety symptoms can be extremely paralyzing for many as we’re not sure what the heck is happening to our body and mind. Therapy can help a person to realize that they aren’t dying or abnormal and that once coping strategies have been determined, one can live a full normal life.

      All the best to you

      Reply

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