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Men and Anxiety



Having anxiety is a normal part of everyday living.  You may have anxiety facing a problem at work or before taking a test in school.  This level of anxiety is temporary and usually situation specific. The anxiety becomes a problem when it does not go away, gets worse over time, and interferes with daily activities such as job performance, school activities, and relationships.  

Our culture expects men to be strong at all times, so they are especially reluctant to seek treatment for anxiety.  Even if they acknowledge something is wrong, they will probably just label it as “stress” and try to manage their symptoms on their own, or look for physical illnesses as the cause, such as heart problems.  The idea that men are too strong to experience anxiety can leave some feeling embarrassed and isolated. With anxiety, too much time alone can often exacerbate emotions and make things worse. Pride can also get in the way of asking for help.

Another mistake commonly made is to attempt to cope with anxiety, or as I like to call “self-medicate” with alcohol or drugs.  While substances like these may temporarily reduce symptoms, over time they can actually make anxiety worse. In addition, men can become addicted to these substances, further complicating treatment and recovery.  

For more information about anxiety, click on this link:  https://www.spacecounseling.com/Anxiety.en.html



Here are some symptoms of anxiety to look out for men:

  • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge

  • being easily fatigued

  • difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • irritability

  • muscle tension

  • sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)

  • Excessive worry

  • Self-consciousness

  • Irrational fears

  • Stomach problems

  • Negative thinking

Any of you fellas have any of the above symptoms?

Chronic anxiety can lead to a decrease in immune functioning; resulting in an increase in risk for infections, and a decrease in ability to fight off infection or repair tissue.  

An article in the Observer (Benjamin Foley, March, 2017) gave revealing first hand accounts of men’s experience with anxiety.  A must-read, I provided the link below:


I have worked with a lot of men who were “first-timers” in counseling.  They were filled with skepticism, distrust, and anger when they walked into my office.   It reminds me of the movie "Analyze This" with Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal. I won't give anything away if you have not seen it (and you must see it!), but it shows pretty well what it is like for a man to admit he is

having "issues", and needs to talk with a professional.  It goes way more in-depth than that and it is a comedy so you can just imagine what happens (but don't imagine, see it!)  

Anyway, I understand it is difficult sometimes to open up and talk about one's problems and feelings (especially with a stranger), but once these guys open up, you can see the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders.  It also helps to be relatable, and not a dry, starchy stereotypical social worker/therapist who says "MM-HMM MM-HMM" a lot, or lines like "And how does that make you feel?". It is hard enough to say what is on their mind; reflective listening with minimal feedback will not work with men (or women for that matter!).  You need to have a therapist that is an active participant in the treatment, meaning someone who will have a dialogue with you. He/she should help you problem solve, while addressing the emotional and mental components that go with it.


Address your Anxiety Men!!

  • Exercise regularly:  at least 3x/week for an hour with 20-30 minutes of cardio

  • Eat better:  Lower carbohydrate/higher protein diets tend to improve anxiety-related symptoms.  Schedule an appointment with a nutritionist to see what is right for you.

  • Sleep:  Sleep is extremely important for all aspects of one's life not just anxiety.

  • Meditate: using meditation or other progressive relaxation exercises reduce stress

  • Address the causes of your stress

  • Avoid stressful situations:  Sometimes there are things you just need to stay away from, they cause undue and unnecessary stress.

  • Don't take on more than you can handle

  • More optimism:  Simply thinking positive thoughts or seeing the bright side of things helps alleviate anxiety.

  • Prioritize:  Not everything requires your attention right away.  Focus on the top 3 things then move down the list.

  • Enjoy your successes:  Stop and smell the roses guys!  Appreciate what you have and how far you have come.  




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