Women are 50% more likely than men to suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. But with more than 40 million adult Americans affected by disabling anxiety symptoms associated with these types of disorders, it is clear that a significant number of men are suffering from anxiety as well, which may be causing disruption in their daily lives. While rates of anxiety disorder are lower among men, so are the rates of treatment. Too many men either can’t or won’t acknowledge the depth and intensity of their anxiety symptoms, and that prevents them from seeking assistance from mental health professionals. If you’re experiencing persistent and overwhelming anxiety symptoms, in specific situations or just in general, please understand that you could have a serious and significant medical condition that may require medical intervention.
What Not to Do If You’re Suffering from Anxiety Symptoms
For men, the onset of anxiety can be highly unsettling, but it doesn’t always spur them into action right away. This is an unfortunate mistake, since chronic anxiety won’t magically disappear if it’s ignored. If intense anxiety symptoms have invaded your life, don’t:
- Try to tough it out. Fighting against anxiety symptoms will only make them stronger and more entrenched.
- Blame yourself for being weak. Anxiety is a natural human response to traumatic, stressful and frightening situations or events, and it should be viewed as a call to action and not as a source of shame or embarrassment.
- Hide it from friends or loved ones. We all need a social support system to cope with challenging circumstances, and if anxiety is damaging your life it’s a mistake to leave those who care about you out of the loop.
- Turn to drugs and alcohol to help you cope. Anxiety disorders and substance abuse go hand-in-hand: it is estimated that one-fifth of anxiety disorder sufferers also have co-occurring drug or alcohol addictions—and men make up a majority of this group.
- Accept it as a fact of life. Anxiety disorders are a treatable condition, and if you’re suffering from overwhelming anxiety symptoms you should seek out the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist without delay.
Antidotes to Severe Anxiety Symptoms
In addition to seeing a mental health professional, there are a few other steps you can take to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of anxiety in your life:
- Develop a regular (four-to-six times a week) aerobic exercise habit. Exercise shifts your focus away from your fears, obsessions and overly self-conscious reactions. Exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins, which will improve your mood and leave you in a more relaxed and stable state of mind.
- Adopt a healthy, nutritious diet. Nutritional imbalances contribute to emotional and physical illness and help create conditions where anxiety can thrive.
- Get out of the house and practice hobbies and other activities that bring you joy. Anything that makes you feel happier and more optimistic about life will fill you with motivation and reinforce your determination to change your life for the better. When you’re outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, anxiety has a tendency to melt away.
- Confront your anxiety head on by speaking openly about it. Don’t let your pride get in the way; being honest about what you’re feeling will lift a weight off your shoulders and give you a chance to connect with others who’ve been experiencing the same thing. Since roughly one in five Americans are affected by severe anxiety symptoms, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding peers who can offer support and understanding.
Overcoming Anxiety Means a Brighter Future
Anxiety in men limits life chances and increases their misery index exponentially. Where there is anxiety, there are often underlying anxiety disorders. Fortunately, these sometimes debilitating conditions are highly responsive to treatment and can be managed with a diligent and determined approach to healing. If anxiety symptoms have dimmed the light in your life, don’t give up. Take proactive measures to get appropriate medical treatment from a professional, and soon that light at the end of the tunnel will begin to shine brightly once more. Sources Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Facts and Statistics https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Substance Use Disorders https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/substance-abuse