Understanding the Role of Gender In Anxiety
If you've never had an anxiety attack, you might be wondering what anxiety feel like. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, feeling a heavy weight on your chest. Your heart is racing, and your mind is racing even faster. You feel like you can't catch your breath, and you're terrified that something terrible is going to happen. You try to calm yourself down, but the more you try, the worse you feel. You're trapped in a cycle of fear and panic, and it feels like there's no way out.
If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Anxiety symptoms like these affect millions of people worldwide. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults every year. While anxiety symptoms may be similar for men and women, research suggests that anxiety can look different in these two genders. In this blog, we will explore the signs and symptoms of anxiety and how anxiety looks different in men versus women.
Typical Anxiety Symptoms
Typical symptoms of anxiety and depression can be debilitating and affect a person's daily life. The most common anxiety symptoms are listed below:
Restlessness or feeling on edge
Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with its own unique set of signs and symptoms. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry and fear about everyday events or activities. Panic disorder involves recurring panic attacks, which are sudden and intense feelings of fear or dread. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) involves intense fear or anxiety about social situations and interactions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involves obsessive thoughts or behaviors that can be difficult to control. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can develop after a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or a physical assault. Separation anxiety disorder is a condition that involves excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from a loved one or a caregiver. It's important to recognize the different types of anxiety disorders and seek appropriate treatment from a mental health professional. With the right treatment, it's possible to manage anxiety and lead a fulfilling life.
How Men and Women Report Anxiety Symptoms
Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to experience anxiety disorders as men. However, this may be due to the fact that women are more likely to seek treatment for anxiety, while men may be more likely to mask their symptoms or avoid seeking help. In fact, nearly 1 in 10 men experience depression or anxiety but less than half will receive treatment and more than 4 times as many men as women die by suicide every year.
Men may also be more likely to turn to substance abuse as a way of coping with anxiety. Alcohol or drugs may be a way of self-medicating their symptoms. This can lead to a cycle of substance abuse and anxiety, making it difficult for men to seek help and break the cycle.
On the other hand, anxiety symptoms in women may be more prevalent during hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that women are more likely to experience anxiety during the premenstrual phase of their menstrual cycle. Women may also be more likely to experience anxiety in response to interpersonal stressors, such as relationship problems or family conflicts.
Traditional Anxiety Symptom Relief
While anxiety may look different in men and women, it's important to remember that anyone can experience anxiety and seek help. With increased awareness of anxiety symptoms and mental health, there are more options for how to deal with anxiety symptoms that can be tried individually or in combination. Here are some ways to find relief from anxiety symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. According to a study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, CBT can reduce anxiety symptoms by up to 68%. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety. It also teaches coping skills that can help individuals manage their symptoms. We offer talk therapy, including CBT at Axis Integrated Mental Health.
Exercise has also been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety. According to a study, exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety by up to 20%. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters, and can also help reduce muscle tension and improve sleep.
In addition to therapy, antidepressants can also be used to treat anxiety. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for anxiety disorders. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Alternative Treatment Options for Anxiety
While therapy, medication, and exercise are effective treatments for anxiety disorders, there are also alternative treatments that can be used in conjunction with traditional methods. Some of these alternative treatments include acupuncture, meditation, and herbal supplements. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to help balance energy and promote relaxation. Meditation can help individuals learn to focus their minds and become more aware of their thoughts and emotions, which can be helpful in managing anxiety symptoms. Some herbal supplements, such as valerian root and passionflower, have been shown to have calming effects on the body and may be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms. It's important to note that alternative treatments should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional or an integrative psychiatry provider and should not be used as a substitute for traditional treatments.
How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Anxiety
Talking to loved ones about your anxiety can be challenging, but it's an important step in managing your symptoms and getting the support you need. One helpful tip is to be honest and direct about your feelings. Let your loved ones know how anxiety affects you, what triggers your anxiety, and what they can do to support you. It's important to communicate your needs clearly and to be open to feedback and suggestions. Another tip is to educate your loved ones about anxiety. Many people may not understand what anxiety is or how it affects those who experience it. By providing information and resources, you can help your loved ones understand your experience and provide better support. Check out this blog about supporting a loved one with a mental illness we wrote. Finally, it's important to be patient and understanding. Anxiety can be difficult to manage, and it may take time for your loved ones to fully understand and support you. With time and effort, however, you can build stronger relationships and find the support you need to manage your anxiety symptoms.
Find Relief Today For Your Anxiety
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it's essential to seek help from a mental health professional. Axis Integrated Mental Health is a leading provider of mental health services and offers a range of treatment options for anxiety disorders. Contact us today at (720) 400-7025 or schedule a consultation and take the first step toward managing your symptoms.