Yes, most definitely men experience anxiety symptoms and anxiety attacks. In fact, according the National Institute of Health’s anxiety research, 22 % of men will meet criteria for a diagnosable anxiety disorder during the course of their lives.
But you wouldn’t know it.
That’s because many men struggle with talking about, let alone admitting that they struggle with anxiety. Also, anxiety symptoms and men, including anxiety attacks, can present differently from women.
Both experience anxiety. Yet how they express that anxiety can vary, and, in some cases, be misinterpreted.
That’s why it’s helpful to understand how men are affected by anxiety. That way they can get the treatment they need to overcome anxiety and to manage their symptoms.
The Role of Anger and Anxiety Attacks for Men
One of the biggest blind spots when it comes to anxiety symptoms in men is anger. We associate anger with displeasure, hatred, etc. Yet, believe it or not, the source of anger may also be fear. Anxiety is a fear-based disorder. Hence, it is why someone has an anxiety attack in the first place.
Essentially, they get flooded with emotions that lead them to believe they are in imminent danger or facing pending doom. That’s a classic symptom of anxiety. With men, some are more likely to express this through anger than outward worry. For example, they might
- Physically express their anger, such as breaking something
- Yell, scream, threaten, etc.
In serious cases, all three may be present. Those who don’t understand will misinterpret the anger and miss the underlying anxiety. That’s especially troublesome for partners who then become the target of the anger. This can result in fractured relationships, even domestic violence.
Anxiety Symptoms and Men: Brooding
Another way that men might express anxiety is through brooding. This is not the outward expression of worry that we perceive typically with anxiety. Rather, it’s more low-key and quiet. His mental rumination may become persistent and make it difficult to focus on much else.
Perhaps you have seen a man in your life grumbling to themselves while mildly kicking the dirt in frustration. You might think they are just being negative. Yet, it could be something more.
It may or may not be a full-fledged anxiety attack. It could be that he is feeling anxious and has no other way of expressing the rising discomfort. Remember that men, especially older generations, were taught to hold in their emotions rather than express them in a healthy way. That can make the symptoms of stress and anxiety in men much harder for others to see.
When You Can’t Get Past the Poker Face
With some men, you can’t tell one way or the other if they are experiencing anxiety, let alone an anxiety attack. They might have a neutral expression on their face at most. Or, they put on a pleasant demeanor that masks what they are truly feeling. These people are so good at hiding their true emotions that you can’t tell one way or the other what they are feeling. As mentioned above, they were probably taught either directly or indirectly that expressing emotions is wrong or shows weakness. It’s not their fault that they do this, they still suffer.
The Role of Alcohol and Drugs with Anxiety Attacks
If someone can’t express themselves in a healthy way, they will do whatever it takes to cope with those emotions. For many years, there has existed the stereotype of the father figure who comes home from work and sits down on the couch or their favorite chairs. In one hand is a beer, and the other is the remote.
What are they doing? They are self-medicating. The beer helps to “take the edge off” while the TV allows them to escape into a different world. That world is away from their problems, especially those that cause anxiety (work, personal relationships, other stressors, etc.). The TV remote gives them some relief when they feel like they have none. But, anyone can learn healthy ways of coping with panic attacks.
It’s true that men experience anxiety and even have anxiety attacks. Yet, anxiety symptoms and men often seem detached or, at least, look very different from that of women. Understanding these differences can help men get the anxiety treatment they need. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out today to learn how anxiety therapy can help.