Posted on February 12, 2019 by firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s estimated that men suffer from anxiety disorders at about half the rate of women. Anxiety disorders can take various forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and various specific phobias. Any of these can have a significant impact on your life, limiting your opportunities, straining relationships, and even damaging your health.
While women tend to suffer from anxiety disorders at a much higher rate than men, many suspect that anxiety is pervasively underreported in men. We know that men are far less likely than women to seek help for depression, and the same may be happening when men suffer from anxiety. While there is a lot of social pressure for men to refrain from expressing sadness or hopelessness, there is even more pressure for men to not show fear. Instead of getting help, anxiety in men may show up in the following ways.
Men are far more likely than women to self-medicate in response to an anxiety disorder. Typically, alcohol is the most convenient substance for this purpose, since it’s easy to get and it enhances the effect of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which reduces anxiety. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium have a similar effect and are even more addictive than alcohol. Unfortunately, using these substances to self-medicate is a very short-term solution and the rebound effect from drinking or using benzodiazepines can actually make your anxiety worse.
Irritability is a common symptom of anxiety disorders. When you always feel threatened, your fight-or-flight response is always engaged. This means you have a very low threshold for frustration and you are more likely to interpret innocuous behaviors as threatening. As a result, you are likely to be easily angered and may even become aggressive at inappropriate times. This is especially common in PTSD. Irritability is also a symptom of anxiety in women, but just as men often feel social pressure to not show fear or sadness, women often feel pressure not to show anger. However, it is typically more acceptable for men to show anger than fear, so anxiety in men often manifests as anger, just as a cornered animal might lash out.
Anxiety and depression are closely linked and often occur together. The relationship between the two can be complicated, but recent research suggests that the closest connection between the two conditions has to do with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness. Anxiety about the future may be linked to a belief that you can’t handle whatever adversity you might have to face. Or you may fear being judged by your peers, leading to isolation and loneliness. This can lead to avoidance and more anxiety.
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