A recent study has shown that women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as men.
Though the reasons behind this statistic are likely complicated, one possible scenario is that women seem to be more likely to discuss their struggles with mental illness than men. With the focus on women regarding the battle with anxiety, countless numbers of men silently suffering may be slipping through the cracks.
It is important to shine a light on men and the struggle with anxiety so that those dealing with it can shed the shame and stigma often associated with a diagnosis, allowing them to better cope and get the help they need.
Here are four things men struggling with anxiety need to know.
- You are not alone in your struggle.
There are many people – regardless of gender – that live with anxiety. Some are able to manage their symptoms, while others find themselves crippled by them. It doesn’t matter where you fall on this spectrum: your struggle is important. It is easy, especially if you do not talk about your struggles, to feel alone or isolated. But anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness – approximately 18% of the population struggles with a form of anxiety. Many others also struggle and identify with what you are going through.
- It’s okay to talk about it.
When you have anxiety, it is tempting to stuff it all down or ignore it. This may be particularly tempting for men. But, that only serves to make things worse. It is okay to talk about what you are going through, be it with your loved ones, friends, a therapist or other care provider. In fact, talking about it is important; it helps to dissolve the stigma and lighten the load you are carrying.
- Your worth is not based on your performance.
Men in particular are prone to basing their identity on how well they perform, particularly at work. Work-related stress is a leading cause of anxiety in men and many may struggle to find balance. But who you are as a person is not contingent on your ability to perform or your accomplishments. You have value as a person and it is important to extend yourself some grace.
- It is okay to seek help.
Men may struggle to seek help for a mental health issue for a number of reasons, a major one being the stigma associated with receiving a diagnosis. It is important to realize that it is alright to get the help you need so that you can try to alleviate some of the symptoms and have a chance at living a better quality of life. There is no shame in therapy, in medication. If you had a heart condition, would you opt to ignore it, push your symptoms away or refuse to treat it? Mental illnesses are diseases of the brain with symptoms and treatment options. Don’t let fear paralyze you, perpetuating the cycle of anxiety.