Male anxiety symptoms may include anger, irritability, and other anxiety symptoms that occur in all genders.

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Everyone has occasional anxiety — it’s a natural reaction to stress and uncertainty. Symptoms of anxiety are not that different between genders, though some men may display more anger and irritability, and their anxiety may be linked to testosterone levels as they age.

If you’re a man living with an anxiety disorder, treatment can help you cope with symptoms and understand what’s causing your condition.

Language matters

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. We use the terms “women” and “men” throughout this article to reflect the terms assigned at birth. But your gender identity may not align with the categories and associated risk factors listed below.

A doctor may be able to help you better understand what anxiety will look like for you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are less likely to seek treatment for mental health disorders than women. As a result, specific anxiety symptoms and types of anxiety disorders in men are underreported.

Still, some small studies have noticed symptoms that occur more or less in men.

In social anxiety disorder, researchers in a 2014 study found that differences in symptom intensity between men and women were small but significant.

Other ways anxiety may look different based on gender identity include:

Gender differences in anxietyWomenMen
more often diagnosed
symptoms often ignored or dismissed
more frequent panic attacks
more frequently occurs with other disorders
more likely to seek treatment
more frequently occurs with substance use disorder

Most common anxiety disorders

Some of the most common anxiety disorders include:

Dr. Suzanne Allen is a psychologist and the co-director of CBT Westport in Westport, Connecticut.

She says, “Men have the same struggles with anxiety that women do, but it’s socially acceptable for men to instead appear as angry or use substances to cope. Revealing mental health issues in American culture can be [perceived as] a sign of weakness, which goes against the idea of masculinity that has been put into a man’s mind.”

Possible physical symptoms of anxiety in males

Everyone is unique, but some physical symptoms of anxiety that often show up in males include:

  • fatigue
  • tension
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • shaking
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • racing or pounding heart
  • feeling like you’re choking

Possible mental symptoms of anxiety in males

Some common mental and emotional symptoms of anxiety in men include:

  • restlessness
  • anger
  • irritability

A lot of things can lead to anxiety. Broadly, life stress from challenging relationships, career uncertainty, financial hardship, trauma, and health concerns can all contribute to anxiety.

Your age, hormones, and how much stress you experience can all contribute, too. As a male, hormone levels are more relevant if you’re older, while life stress can affect you regardless of age.

Allen says that in her practice, she has observed her male patients, “have less emotionally supportive relationships and less language around expressing emotions than women.” If you’re finding it hard to deal with complex emotions, it could be related to anxiety.

Special considerations for men

There are some causes specific to males:

  • Low testosterone levels. A 2020 research review found that testosterone levels can contribute to depression and anxiety symptoms. In a 2011 study, low testosterone was associated with anxiety symptoms. Anxiety seems to increase with age in males, while testosterone levels decline as you age.
  • Substance use. Men are more likely to use substances with potential for addiction, especially when living with social anxiety. Substance use can be both a contributing factor to anxiety symptoms and a coping method. If you tend to use alcohol or other drugs to cope with emotional stress, this may contribute to feelings of anxiety.

A primary doctor or mental health professional may diagnose you with an anxiety disorder.

According to 2014 research, men experience social anxiety and specific phobias more often than other anxiety disorders, compared to women.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) states that a diagnosis of either of the above must include symptoms that:

  • are present for at least 6 months
  • interfere with daily life
  • involve a disproportionate fear or anxiety
  • cause immediate fear or anxiety when exposed to the particular fear or a trigger
  • cause avoidance of the object or situation

The main difference between the two anxiety disorders is that specific phobias can be caused by objects or non-situations, whereas social anxiety is exclusive to interpersonal situations.

If you’re a man living with anxiety symptoms, seeking treatment is important. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide rates in men are higher than in any other gender.

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, you’re not alone

You can access free support right away with these resources:

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.Call the Lifeline at 988 for English or Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The Crisis Text Line.Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • The Trevor Project. LGBTQIA+ and under 25 years old? Call 866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678, or chat online 24/7.
  • Veterans Crisis Line.Call 988 and press 1, text 838255, or chat online 24/7.
  • Deaf Crisis Line.Call 321-800-3323, text “HAND” to 839863, or visit their website.
  • Befrienders Worldwide.This international crisis helpline network can help you find a local helpline.

Mental health conditions are known predictors of someone attempting suicide, according to 2010 research. Similarly, researchers in a small 2016 study found that anxiety was a suicide risk factor for men.

Although you may feel it’s a sign of weakness or decreased masculinity, contacting a mental health professional to talk about your emotions and treatment options is a necessary and important part of taking care of your mental health.

Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often recommended for anxiety disorders. It has been shown to have excellent benefits for social anxiety and all other types of anxiety disorders.

Medication

A doctor may prescribe medications that can help you manage more severe feelings of anxiety. Some anti-anxiety medications include:

Benzodiazepines

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

As a man, you may hesitate to ask for help or prefer not to talk about your symptoms. If you’re overwhelmed and prefer not to talk about your anxiety, there are other ways you can find relief, through lifestyle choices and medications.

Reaching out to a doctor can help you access treatment options and additional testing if necessary.

If you’re comfortable talking with a professional, they may be able to help you figure out what’s causing your anxiety symptoms. We all need help and support from time to time.