Men and women have different ways of reacting to feelings of anxiety or depression. Where a woman might cry or voice feelings of nervousness or unrest, a man might react in an angry outburst, alcohol-abuse, or even muscle aches and pains.
Difficult to Diagnose
This significant difference in reactions often makes it difficult to diagnose men. Many times they choose to not seek help and those around them don’t recognize the signs.
Often we think of men as jerks when they have a big emotional reaction to something that seems insignificant, when in fact they could be reacting that way because they are nervous or anxious. Men who are depressed have more issues with controlling, violent or abusive behaviors and inappropriate anger, according to the Mayo Clinic. Men tend to turn to escapist behaviors, like spending more time at work or sporting events. They might avoid coming home or attending group events.
Many men also find it difficult to display emotions like sadness or to find a release like crying, and instead hold those feelings deep inside resulting in muscle aches or pains, headaches, and dizziness.
All that holding in makes it hard to process feelings, leading many men to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drug abuse, or turning to risky behaviors like reckless driving. Rather than dealing with their mental illness or admitting they are struggling with some hard times, they drown their feelings turning themselves numb. It is no question that these behaviors are unhealthy and often contribute to relationship failures, job loss, and other personal problems.
Scientists don’t know the exact reasons why depression/anxiety symptoms show up differently in men than women, but it is likely due to many factors — brain chemistry, hormones, life experiences, and learned behaviors, to name a few.
Help is Available
Because men display symptoms differently than women, we must have conversations. Learning and recognizing the different ways men may display symptoms of mental illness, can lead to more men getting the help they need.