Despite ongoing efforts to break the stigma surrounding mental health, a lot of men aren’t comfortable expressing how they feel. According to the mental health charity, Mind, four out of five young adults, ages 18 to 34, admit to putting on a “brave face” when they feel anxious.
Suffering from anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of – and, in fact, it’s quite common. It’s the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., impacting more than 40 million adults each year. And those struggling with a substance use disorder could be at a higher risk.
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
Unfortunately, many men turn to alcohol or drugs for a quick fix to anxiety. However, self-medicating enables men to avoid rather than face and treat their anxieties. Some experts compare it to holding a beach ball under water; it works for a little bit but will eventually pop back up with an explosive force. It also makes you more susceptible to developing an addiction. Roughly 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder – and vice versa, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Understanding the Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety is not a simple matter. While it can present in a classic way – worry, tension, fretting – it can also reemerge as other symptoms when you try to stuff it down. While there’s no such thing as “men’s” versus “women’s” anxiety, there are certain symptoms that tend to manifest in men due to stigma. Here’s a look at a few:
- Anger: Anxiety can trigger a full range of anger, from an explosive outburst to a slow and constant frustration. This is due to the “fight” part of the fight or flight response, which is triggered easily in people with anxiety disorders.
- Irritability: It’s no surprise that frazzled nerves can cause you to feel irritable or on edge. When you suffer from anxiety, you have less tolerance for additional stress and mental energy. The irritability is not you; it’s what happens when you try to manage your anxiety on your own.
- Depression: Anxiety can drive avoidance and isolation, which can spur depression. If you isolate yourself or resist close relationships out of fear of someone finding out about your anxiety, you are separating yourself from life’s joys. This behavior can cause feelings of hopelessness and helplessness – two pillars of depression.
- Sleep disturbances: Anxiety can cause your body to overproduce adrenaline, prompting your body into flight mode. Anxiety can also become worse at night when you’re alone with your racing thoughts. This can make falling and staying asleep more difficult. Many people with anxiety also experience nightmares or night terrors.
- Trouble concentrating: Not surprisingly, poor sleep messes with your ability to focus. What’s more, anxiety can make you more prone to ruminating over negative situations and feelings – and this can contribute to difficulty concentrating. This is especially true if you’re trying to conceal your anxiety instead of reaching out for help.
Help for Anxiety and Addiction
No matter how your anxiety manifests, it’s crucial to understand that treatment works, and recovery is possible. At Spearhead Lodge, we offer a customized, holistic approach that helps young men attain lasting results for improved mental health. To learn more, call today: 866-905-4550.