Anxiety in men

An article by Madeline R. Vann, MPH caught my eye and I’d like to share some of it with you. Madeline wrote: “Anxiety disorder in men is real and treatable through therapy and medication.”

In her article, New Jersey-based freelance journalist Scott Neumyer, at 35, said he can look back and recognize signs of anxiety from as early as his childhood.

But perhaps because men find anxiety easier to overlook than women do, he didn’t have to face his anxiety head-on until a crescendo event when he was 25. Neumyer was attending a Bruce Springsteen concert with a colleague when his first panic attack drove him into a bathroom. He can catalogue the many times after that first panic attack when anxiety symptoms made social and work relationships difficult, and when he began to fear going out in public.

Someone close to Neumyer had been through anxiety treatment so he knew that seeing a doctor was the first step. He tried anxiety medication and went through several types before settling on Zoloft (Sertraline). But he also knew that medication alone wasn’t going to solve the problem, so he sought out therapy.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy has been the most effective for me,” he says, adding that he also read as many books as he could about living with an anxiety disorder. “Along with the panic and anxiety usually comes some form of agoraphobia, a fear of doing certain things and going certain places.

I personally got to the stage where I hated going to watch my sons swimming because of the seating – all those steps looking down over the pool? The same with the cinema, those dreaded stairs – and in the dark! I also disliked the tube stations in London and the further down I had to go, the more I panicked, so in the end I had to get taxis (if I couldn’t park at whichever venue).

My two (now adult ) sons have experienced anxiety and panic attacks in the past. They’re both black belts in Karate, they’re club swimmers and play football each week. My eldest is a Research fellow, currently working in the States, researching neuromuscular disorders and my the youngest is a Physiotherapist. So, although they both claim to be geeky in a science-type way, they’re not weedy or wussie; nor do they come across as lads who would have panic attacks. Some family and friends have been shocked, like “Wow, I didn’t think he would have mental health problems.” So, really what I’m saying guys is, it doesn’t mean you’re a weak person, anyone can experience anxiety; it doesn’t care where you’re from, what class you belong to or what job you do.

Here are some other anxiety statistics from No Panic in the UK

  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.

Most common problems

  • A UK survey published in 2016 showed that 5.9 in 100 people suffer with a generalised anxiety disorder
  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences.
  • Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
  • One adult in six had a common mental disorder.
  • In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK.
  • In England women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.

Men and women

  • In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
  • In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
  • 10% of mothers and 6% of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time.
  • One in five (19.1%) women had CMD symptoms, compared with one in eight men (12.2%)

Madeline quoted “Scientists still aren’t sure whether anxiety disorders are more common in women than men because of biological differences, such as estrogen and other hormones, or because women may express distress differently than men do”, says Mark Pollack, MD, psychiatrist and chairman of the department of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe, NHS. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

The following information from the NHS is about a specific condition called generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include:

  • feeling restless or worried
  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizziness or heart palpitations

Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see a GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress. Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to find out if you could have GAD.

What causes generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)?

The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, although it’s likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include:

  • overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
  • an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
  • the genes you inherit from your parents – you’re estimated to be 5 times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
  • having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
  • having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
  • having a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • But many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.

Who is affected?

  • GAD is a common condition, estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population.
  • Slightly more women are affected than men, and the condition is more common in people from the ages of 35 to 59.

How generalised anxiety disorder is treated

GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms. These include:

With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.

Self help for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

  • going on a self-help course
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • trying 1 of the mental health apps and tools in the NHS Apps Library


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

19 thoughts on “Anxiety in men”

  1. I’ve never had any anxiety my whole life, but since the stroke, I assume it is anxiety because it does at least make me feel anxious. For example, on a long car journey, I am “what if we break down?” “How would I get home?”. These are all risks that have been there every other journey I’ve taken, ever, but I only worry about them post-stroke. And in fact, that is how I cope. I tell myself that that same risk existed before, I never worried about it back then, so now it is just me being silly.
    There is also another big anxiety which I guess many people share – when the mortgage is up in a few years, how the **** will I pay it off?

    1. It’s not you being silly, definitely. After all you’ve been through, anxiety would be a normal reaction. Anxiety is real and perhaps you can speak with your Stroke Nurse or Team. They might be able to help support you.

      Ah, the dreaded mortgage – maybe we all have to downsize? Caz 🙂

      1. When I say silly, I should more correctly say that knowing how it was before, that’s how I know it is all in my head, it is perception rather than something real. As for stroke nurses, once you’re stable enough to go, that’s it. There’s no such thing as a stroke nurse. At least, down here.

        Yeah there are various solutions with the mortgage, it is not particularly important that my daughter inherits anything, so equity release is not a problem. But I suspect for anybody who bought an endowment it is a common anxiety.

      2. That’s just all semantics 😉 In your head means something’s going on! I know what you mean – my mum’s stroke nurses have disappeared in Scotland.

        For me, as a single parent, all I’ve ever done is to work hard to leave for my sons – but due to various mistakes etc, there’s not much to leave now 🙁

  2. Is anxiety also stress related? I mean, can it make you HPA axis (don’t know if it is the right term in English) more vulnerable? I was very stressed and very anxious in the beginning of my burnout but now – due to the changed circumstances – find myself really anxious sometimes when I need to leave to house to see someone I don’t know (like a new doctor) or when facing a new situation. I wonder if that is ‘normal’ stress, sometimes I’m really ‘out of it’ due to the stress and that doesn’t help recovery. Or would it be more a self-esteem issue?
    Ah, I’m not a man 🙂 but this gentlemen calling people ‘weedy’ or ‘wussie’ and people you won’t expect to have mental struggles …. still a long way to go in that particular area!

    1. HPA is not something we’ve discussed much in the UK but, according to “One of the key causes of chronic anxiety is HPA dysregulation, which is more commonly called “adrenal fatigue.” HPA dysregulation is a condition in which the communication between the brain (hypothalamus and pituitary) and the adrenal glands is dysfunctional, giving way to abnormal or ineffective hormone output from the adrenal glands. I thought you might find this article interesting Kacha. x

      1. Thank you, red the article and learned a lot. I think I’ll maybe look deeper into this as it sounds interesting. Whatever comes my way 🙂 x

  3. Interesting. I didn’t know that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety as men. I can’t help wondering, though, how many men have anxiety disorders and don’t get diagnosed. The stigma that men who show fear aren’t “real” men may drive many to deny or attempt to cover up anxious symptoms rather than seeking treatment. Showing anxiety isn’t great for women either, but it’s more socially acceptable, so even women with milder cases may be more willing to seek out help compared to men.

    1. You hit the nail on the head there – many men won’t tell their GP’s so can go undiagnosed for long periods of time. They probably don’t talk to their pals about it either so they just go on suffering. I am so glad my sons feel able to reach out for support when they get anxious 🙂 However, they’ve been brought up (while I was studying) with mental health, mental illness, CBT etc lol 😉

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