Men and Anxiety
Are you a man that worries a lot? Have you struggled with issues like fear, uncertainty and doubt for most of your life? Do negative thoughts regularly race across your mind in ways that undermine your self-esteem?
If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. The truth is, all of us stress out from time to time. And to keep it real, certain situations are going to bring out anxiety more than others. An example might be getting jittery on a bumpy flight or worrying about a child’s health when they get sick.
But if you are constantly in a suspended state of worry or experience chronic stress, it could be an indication of an anxiety disorder. I realize the term “disorder” may be uncomfortable. I certainly don’t like it. But since we need to call it something, we might as well not try and water it down.
As a counselor that works with men, I learned long ago that guys aren’t so great about sharing feelings. There are several reasons for this, including (ridiculous) societal norms, coupled with cultural expectations.
So rather than give you a bunch of clinical jargon that about what an anxiety disorder is, I thought it might be more helpful to explore the symptoms. Now keep in mind that you shouldn’t try to diagnose yourself. Instead, just look at what follows as possible indicators of an anxiety problem.
What follows are eight signs of anxiety in men. While I recognize that women also can struggle with these issues, I’m specifically highlighting the ones below because this is what I’ve seen most prominent in guys over the years.
Check it out.
1. Worrying too much
The biggest indicator of all for an anxiety disorder is that someone worries excessively. While it’s hard to define what exactly qualifies as “too much,” the best rubric is that worry that seriously affects a person’s normal ability to function is excessive.
Worrying may be a normal part of human existence, but when it gets to the point that you develop stress related acne or can’t focus on the task in front of you, it could be a sign of a larger problem.
Someone with an anxiety disorder may constantly feel that all eyes are on them. While it’s common to feel self-awareness when, for example, giving a speech or doing anything else that requires being at the center of attention, those with a serious anxiety problem may feel intense self-consciousness even in ordinary social situations.
If you struggle with body image issues to the point that they interfere with your activities of daily living (i.e. going out with friends, dating, being public) this may be a strong indication of an anxiety disorder.
3. Irrational fears
Everyone is afraid some of the time. There are, of course, certain situations in which fear is a sensible response. However, someone who has many fears that are unrealistic or disconnected from reality may have an anxiety problem.
Fear should not occupy a person’s entire mind, be far out of proportion to the actual danger, or disrupt a person’s life in a major way.
4. Stomach troubles
The stomach and the entire digestive system are closely connected to mood and emotions. Stress can throw the digestive system into turmoil, disrupting normal function. Cramps, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other stomach or digestive problems can be a physical manifestation of an anxiety disorder.
If you’ve been experiencing these issues over an extended period of time, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor.
5. Muscle tension
Tight, tense, knotted muscles are another potential physical sign of an anxiety disorder. That’s because many anxiety sufferers keep certain sets of muscles constantly tensed, resulting in severe tightness and pain.
For example, some people with anxiety keep their jaws or fists clenched almost continually. If this is a regular thing for you, consider it a possible sign.
6. Difficulty concentrating
Severe anxiety has a way of taking over the mind, making it hard to focus on anything other than the source of the worry. Someone with anxiety may have trouble sustaining effort for long periods, which can result in poor performance at work or school.
Difficulty concentrating can also hamper the ability to make decisions. In many cases, prolonged periods when you can’t concentrate may suggest a problem. Examples include generalized anxiety or possible depression.
7. Negative thinking
Individuals with an anxiety disorder will often see an event or situation in the worst possible light. Someone who habitually anticipates things turning out in the worst possible way may be dealing with anxiety.
Excessive negative thinking is often accompanied by irrational perfectionism, which can make reaching goals almost impossible.
8. Difficulty sleeping
Like digestion, sleep is a complicated, delicate process that can easily be disrupted by an anxiety disorder. Worry and stress agitate the mind, making it hard to reach the state of relaxation required for quality sleep.
People with anxiety disorders can suffer from a range of sleep problems, including trouble staying asleep, abnormal sleep schedule, and insomnia. Odd dreams about life and death may also be part of the dynamic.
It’s important to emphasize that the presence of some, or even all, of these signs should not be taken as absolute proof of an anxiety disorder. Anyone who thinks they might have a serious anxiety problem should seek help from a trained expert who can be relied upon for a sure diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
That said, since the eight signs described in this article are strong indicators for a major anxiety issue. Their presence should be taken seriously. To learn more about what anxiety disorders are and how they are diagnosed, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America online.
If you are reading this and feel you are in crisis, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.