You’ve probably heard experts talk about how anxiety is seen in women far more often than men. This statement brings up more questions than answers. Is it true that men don’t experience anxiety as often? Is there a cultural reason that men don’t talk about it when they do experience anxiety? Do men experience anxiety in a different way so it’s less recognizable? Here are some facts about men and anxiety that you may not know.
1. One in Five Men Will Experience an Anxiety Disorder
Men, think of your four best friends. If you’ve not experienced disordered anxiety, it’s likely one of them has. A study on Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders found that roughly 20 percent of men will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their life.
Many don’t realize it, but anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns in the U.S. The category includes several specific diagnoses including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder. Specific phobias may also be categorized as types of anxiety.
We all know that combat veterans may experience PTSD upon their return to civilian life. Because of its prevalence and its association with war and combat, this form of mental health disorder is becoming more socially recognized in men. Yet we have plenty of evidence that some men suffer from each of the other disorders as well.
2. Men Are Less Likely to Get Mental Health Treatment
It’s well documented that men are less likely to seek treatment for mental health disorders. In fact, according to the CDC, less than half of the men in a 2015 study who were coping with depression had taken medication or spoken with a mental health professional. So why do fewer men seek treatment?
In our culture, there is still a significant stigma associated with mental health. For men, this is doubly problematic. Our perceived gender norms say that a man shouldn’t need to seek help with his feelings.
Fortunately, things are improving and there are those who are working toward better mental health care for men specifically. One such resource is ManTherapy.com — a site specifically designed to help men. The site includes a “head inspection” quiz to help men identify their problem areas, as well as plenty of resources, tips, and lots of humor too.
If you are or know a man who is struggling with anxiety or other psychological disorders, don’t let social norms keep you from seeking treatment. There’s nothing effeminate about looking after your health.
3. Anxiety, not Depression, Is the Most Common Cause of Suicide
We’ve all heard the stories. A friend, neighbor, or beloved celebrity takes their own life and everyone says “he struggled with depression for years”. The connection between depression and suicide is well documented in our society and it’s what we commonly think of when someone dies by their own hand. Yet this may not be entirely accurate.
While it’s true that depression can lead to suicide, it may not be the most common cause after all. Depressed people tend to think about death and suicide a great deal more than others. But a 2010 study published by Molecular Psychiatry found that those who actually act on suicidal thoughts are more likely to suffer from disorders related to severe anxiety (like PTSD) or poor impulse control (such as substance abuse). It’s also a known fact that men commit suicide about 3.5 times as often as women.
Right Now, Anxiety is Trending Upward
It should be no surprise that the stressful situations we’re currently experiencing are causing real difficulty for many, especially those prone to anxiety disorders. Fear over health concerns, loss of jobs or wages, increasing food prices, and general community unrest are all contributing factors. When social isolation also means less access to the support of friends and family, we have a major problem on our hands.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to get help. Don’t allow stigma to turn you into just another statistic. Instead, talk with a licensed professional. You might be surprised at how helpful such a conversation can be.
Some anxiety symptoms can seem more physical than mental. Problems like muscle aches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and dry mouth can all be related to anxiety disorders, but can equally be related to physical concerns. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, it’s best to seek medical advice. Contact DispatchHealth for at-home evaluation and treatment for your physical symptoms. We’ll meet you at home, the office, or wherever you are. Our medical teams can treat everything an urgent care clinic does, and more. And since we take most major insurance plans, we’re affordable too!