Anxiety problems can look different in men. When people think of anxiety, they may picture the excessive worry and avoidance of frightening situations that often plague those who suffer. These afflict men, too. But there’s a growing recognition among psychologists that men are more likely to complain of headaches, difficulty sleeping and muscle aches and pains. They are more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with anxiety, so what looks like a drinking problem may actually be an underlying anxiety disorder. And anxiety in men often manifests as anger and irritability.
Anxious “men may present as loose cannons, but they are worriers,” says Kevin Chapman, a clinical psychologist in Louisville, Ky. “Aggression tends to be more socially acceptable to many men than anxiety.”
How to Help
—Don’t deliver an ultimatum. This can lead to a power struggle and increase his resistance to treatment. Instead, highlight ways his quality of life could improve with treatment.
—Convey your own distress about his suffering—how you are worrying about him.
—Be compassionate. Don’t view him as being stubborn, see him as a human being who is struggling with a heavy burden of expectations.
—Avoid diagnostic labels. Using the word “anxiety” could make him uncomfortable.
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