Stress in men can be very different to stress in women, and that’s why we have split the topic of stress into two articles; Stress Symptoms in Men and Stress Symptoms in Women, so we can focus on each gender.
Stress in men can be a lot harder to come to terms with and find someone to talk to about. Gender stereotypes have told us that men are strong, and men don’t cry and that they struggle to discuss emotions or feelings with anyone. This trait has led to a lot of negative outcomes for men when things are bad, and especially when men find they don’t have “strength” and ability to talk to people about it.
Understanding stress is very important in the battle to help people get on top of it. So, let’s revisit what stress is?
What is Stress? The Meaning of Stress
Stress dates to the days when we had to rely on fight or flight to defend ourselves from predators or be able to escape from natural disasters or war.
When our body senses danger, it releases adrenaline into the system, which can cause a large variety of symptoms. Stress can be experienced differently for different people.
Today’s society experiences stress in a much different manner to those many years ago. While it used to be a life or death situation that would bring it on, it would cause all our body systems to be on high alert to help us escape from whatever was going to harm us.
This body’s own system was designed for only short-term escapes.
But, today’s modern society has much higher demands and much more expected of us in a shorter time. While today’s stresses are still just as real, the short-term escape aspect of stress has long since passed, and we are now in a high alert stressed state for most if not all of our 8-hour workday.
Up to 8 hours of stress a day is not good for the human body to function with. It starts to affect the immune system and is found to be linked to several other health problems.
These longer times of stress each day can begin to have longer term-effects, so it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms. These lists are not exclusive, and not all symptoms may be experienced by all men.
Tip: If you think you or someone you know is suffering from too much stress, make sure an appointment is made with a Family doctor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist.
Let’s dive deeper into symptoms.
Stress Symptoms in Men
Symptoms of stress can be broken down into four categories Emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral.
- Sadness and/ or crying
- Unable to control moods
- Withdrawing from regular activities or isolating oneself
- Unable to Sleep
- Change in appetite overeating or under eating
- Constant worry
- Increased anger and unable to control it
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Unable to wind down
- Lowered self-esteem
- Increase in use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products
- Feelings of insecurity
- Dissatisfied with work and a lowered productivity level
- Low Energy or Fatigue
- Headaches or dizziness
- Pain in the chest and increased heart rate
- Low sex drive
- Gastrointestinal issues including constipation, diarrhea or nausea
- Muscle Aches and Pains and tension including neck
- Clenching of jaws and grinding of teeth
- Dry mouth and tightness in the throat
- High Blood Pressure (We just covered Signs of High Blood Pressure and Effects of Hypertension in separate article.)
- Shortness of breath
- Insomnia (Sleeplessness)
- Weight gain or loss
- Thoughts that are always racing
- Always being negative and pessimistic
- Unable to focus on anything
- Unable to remember things or organize anything
- Always worrying about something
- Poor judgment
- Avoiding responsibility and always putting things off
- Using more drugs, alcohol of cigarettes
- Eating much more than usual or less than normal
- Fidgeting, pacing or nail-biting and seeming more nervous than usual.
Tip: Did you know the Difference Between Panic Attack and Heart Attack and Difference Between a Panic Attack and Anxiety Attack? The answers are a click away.
Long-term Effects of Stress on The Health of Men
Another thing to be considered is the long-term effects of stress.
Here are the common long-term effects of stress, if you ignore your symptoms for longer.
- Mental health problems including depression and anxiety
- Increase chances of more serious health problems, both psychiatrically and physically
- Cause heart disease
- Skin and Hair problems
- More severe gastrointestinal issues
It’s very important to be aware of these symptoms to make sure that you are looking after yourself and those around you and making sure that stress isn’t developing into anything further and is being dealt with in the earlier stages.
The Severity of Stress Symptoms
These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and you must consult with a GP if you are experiencing some of the listed symptoms.
If you have already seen a GP long-time ago make sure to keep them updated if their suggestions are not working for you or if your situation changes. For example, when your stress severity or symptoms changes.
Quite often, men are not able to recognize the symptoms in themselves and often when they do; they are not usually willing to admit there is a problem.
Dating back to the days when the men had to be strong and keep going and not talk about things, which has often led to stress becoming a long-term issue and even lead to other bigger health problems.
Also, as it is commonly an individual measure as well what one man will find stressful, another may not, so it can be difficult to recognize what situations could be triggering someone.
A little bit of stress is okay; without it, we would not have that extra adrenaline to win races or get us through sporting events or tight deadlines. It is when it is ongoing that it tends to start becoming a problem and that is why it is very important for everyone to have a way to wind down and relax and make sure they are doing the right amount of self-care.
Causes of Stress in Men
Several factors can cause stress or increase it in men.
Here they are.
- Work or lack of work
- Financial problems
- Bereavement and other things ending which can include moving to a new house, relationships ending or jobs ending
- The weather
- Other people, and the actions of others, or the presence or absence of others
- Family breakdown
- Sex and sexuality
- Being on the receiving end of any violence or bullying.
How to Support a Man with Stress
Keep an extra eye on those people you know who are going through these situations as their stress will already be increased, and they will likely need extra help to get through it.
As I noted earlier, it’s not always easy for men to open up themselves to the fact that they are having a problem; therefore, they will often suffer in silence. As such, getting someone to talk to can be difficult.
The best start is to do an activity with them and genuinely ask how they are. They may open up slowly, but as it is severe it may take some time.
Try asking them to give you a hand with something. Feeling wanted in times like these can help them feel a little better.
Try sharing some of your own stories which may encourage them to open up about things.
Remember you don’t need to have the answers to everything; you just need to be able to listen.
If they still don’t open up, keep them aware that you are there when they feel up to talking.
Keep in touch when you are not around and face to face. But, catch up as often as you can.
How Can We Deal with Stress in Men?
Stress can start to affect every aspect of your life if it is not dealt with properly.
There are several options for dealing with stress. But often people don’t realise just how stressed they are until it is too late. Too many people push it aside and compare themselves to others and think that if the situation doesn’t stress the other person then they shouldn’t be either.
This is an unreal expectation as everyone will feel ‘the situations’ differently. People will get stressed by different things and some people are just better at hiding it than others, so make sure that if you do start to feel the symptoms that you take a moment to calm yourself. And if you notice you are under ‘stress’ and it continuing, where possible, remove yourself from the situation.
If this is not possible, when you see your GP next, ask for some recommendations. Depending on the individual situation some people require medications to deal with certain events, some may need to speak to a professional Psychologist regularly and some can simply learn to deal with the situation with some breathing and mindfulness exercises.
There are plenty of suggestions on many websites and available apps that will be able to walk you through guided exercises.
Be sure to know that talking about stress is not a sign of weakness.
It takes more guts to speak about it than it does to hide it. You may also encourage others to talk about it as well.
Stress quite often leads to further mental health issues. One in 4 people are dealing with depression, and this can very frequently be bought on by stress.
With the increasing rate of male suicide, it is very important for everyone to be aware of the signs and to look out for each other. You can look out for the four different types of symptoms in yourself and in others.
Follow the above guidelines on helping someone talk about it and remember if ever in doubt a GP or other medical professionals like Psychologist and specialists like Psychiatrists are the best person to speak to.