13 Anxiety Symptoms in Men That Go Overlooked

13 Anxiety Symptoms in Men That Go Overlooked

Despite being increasingly common across every demographic, anxiety symptoms in men often go unrecognized. Because they're more likely to be out of touch with their own emotions, it can be harder to identify and diagnose anxiety disorders in men.

Men tend to hide more traditional symptoms of anxiety, even from themselves. Seeing a therapist is a great option for anybody who feels this list hits a little too close to home. After all, there is no shame in having anxiety, and everyone deserves to get help.

13 Anxiety Symptoms in Men That Go Overlooked

1. Anger and Irritability

When men aren't used to feeling vulnerable, they can end up getting more nervous and angry as a result. This anger or irritability is a defense mechanism. What they're really trying to do is protect themselves from getting hurt when they aren't feeling safe.

Sadly, this is an extremely short-lived solution to anxiety. It doesn't bring real relief, and it can drive away the support system that someone with anxiety needs. It can also make the person experiencing this symptom feel guilty or ashamed of their reactions. This is one of the anxiety symptoms in men that would benefit the most from professional help and support.

2. Strained Relationships

male anxiety symptoms

Anxiety is exhausting on a physical, mental, and emotional level. It drains motivation and brainpower. It can even make someone feel like their friends and family hate them, or like a partner is cheating or planning on leaving them. Regardless of whether or not these situations are real, they feel real, and the impulse to act on the thoughts is also real.

When relationships are under the pressure of imagined troubles on top of the real ones, it places them under intense strain. Not every relationship will survive this, and that makes the anxiety even worse.

Men are especially vulnerable to this symptom because they don't tend to check on each other as women do. Men are likely to say they're fine and leave the topic at that or pull away if they're afraid.

If you or a friend are pulling away and struggling to maintain relationships, that is another risky symptom that would benefit from professional support.

3. Overuse of Alcohol, Porn, or Video Games

Most of us have known someone who needs alcohol to handle a social situation. It isn't an uncommon coping mechanism.

Alcohol, porn, video games, marijuana, and other distractions are all tempting, but unhealthy, coping mechanisms to manage anxiety. While the amount consumed might not meet the criteria for addiction, it can still reach a point where it disrupts the life of the person using it to cope. "Self-Medicating" is not effective or safe.

Self-medicating by overusing these kinds of things can make anxiety worse because they can cut off social outlets and allow the anxious person to isolate. Instead of relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms, consider reading this article to learn some healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety.

4. Addiction

anxious man

Yes, anxiety can be a contributing factor to addiction. It doesn't matter if the addiction is to drugs, alcohol, gaming, or gambling. The connection between anxiety and addiction is recognized by professionals around the world. [1]

Cigarette breaks give people a chance to step out of the building every few hours. Drinking at parties can make people feel more relaxed. Playing video games every night could be less stressful than parenting or interacting with a partner.

Unmanaged anxiety can lead people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Some people do this socially to feel more comfortable with social interaction; others become more vulnerable to addiction because of the isolation that anxiety causes. Either way, the result is something that cannot be controlled without help.

Another connecting factor is trauma and intense stress. Work, bad breakups, toxic relationships, grief, loss, and traumatic experiences in childhood are all risk factors for both anxiety disorders and addiction. When reaching out for help doesn't feel like an option, it can feel more approachable to avoid the problem for a little while.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, talk to your doctor about mental health screening. Treating unmanaged anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can make a big difference in your recovery.

5. Struggling to Concentrate

There is a stereotype of men not listening when their wives or girlfriends talk. The woman talks for too long and the next thing the man knows, he's either in trouble for not listening or he's just agreed to something he doesn't remember. He ends up with an angry wife and a laugh track on the TV.

However, struggling to concentrate is a classic anxiety symptom. That checked-out, spacey, untethered feeling happens when your brain feels overwhelmed by a situation and decides to take an unapproved break. This messes with relationships, schoolwork, day-to-day life, and jobs.

Another cause of this struggle to concentrate is overthinking. Sorting out spreadsheets ranks lower on a brain's priority list than questioning whether we'll make rent this month, and anxiety can't tell if that fear is real. The result, struggling to concentrate, remains.

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6. Struggling with Budgeting

A man with anxiety can swing back and forth between impulse purchases and intense overthinking. They could buy a new video game, a pricey junk food meal, or a new toy for a pet one day, then turn around and be too stressed to buy necessary items like a new shirt the next day.

This happens because the anxious person knows impulse buys are the only way to avoid overthinking, shame, and fear about a new purchase. Their bank account may be full or empty, depending on where they fall on the impulse-to-overthinking scale, but a result is often a man with shirts full of holes.

7. Headaches

anxiety headaches

Tension headaches are real, and they are miserable experiences. The link between headaches and anxiety has been explored so many times that they can actually be part of the diagnostic criteria. [2]

There are many different reasons for headaches. Low serotonin, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, dehydration, and general tension are some of the items on that list.

Frequent headaches are a good reason to visit a doctor. If the cause turns out to be anxiety, that's still something a doctor can help treat so you can start feeling better.

8. Nausea or Stomach Upset

Much like headaches, nausea and anxiety go together like the world's worst peanut butter and jelly. Anxiety can trigger a rush of hormones meant to help in survival situations, but those hormones aren't needed when the survival situation at hand is just asking somebody on a date or talking to a coworker.

Stress and anxiety can cause digestive system issues like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn/acid reflux
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Gas
  • Worsened IBS symptoms

Unfortunately, needing to puke during a work meeting does not improve anxiety. Some anxiety medications and anti-nausea medications have very similar effects and can help both sets of symptoms.

9. Trouble Sleeping

trouble sleeping anxiety symptom in men

There is a special kind of misery in staying awake for hours at night, tossing and turning while overthinking. Sleep is supposed to be a reprieve from anxiety! The exhaustion afterward doesn't help, since it's harder to break out of cycles of anxiety when you're too tired to focus.

Men with anxiety symptoms might try to push through this, saying that men just don't need as much sleep or that they'll just tough it out. Even worse, they might self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana, or non-prescription drugs so they can sleep.

Don't fall for that trap when help is easy to reach. Try some sleep meditations for anxiety, sleep playlists, a cool shower before bed, or reach out to a medical provider for more ideas.

Better yet: check out our article on the perfect pre-sleep ritual to prevent nighttime anxiety. These tips are sure to help you chill out enough to get some rest!

10. Feeling Weak or Lethargic

You might think that this is because of the lack of sleep, but that isn't always true. This symptom can exist separately from other symptoms of anxiety in men.

Feeling weak or lethargic isn't because of a personal failing or laziness. If you were just lazy, it wouldn't take more than a habit change to get out of this lethargic state. Anxiety leads to longer-lasting exhaustion.

Anxiety is continuously exhausting. It drains energy, motivation, and focus, making it harder to sleep and harder to eat healthy foods. You can end up with adrenal fatigue because your anxiety symptoms are constantly demanding your body use up all of its adrenaline supplies before it has time to make more. Having symptoms of anxiety is a lot of work!

11. Muscle Pain and Neck Pain

Men often describe the feeling of anxiety as carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. This isn't far from the truth when it comes to male anxiety symptoms, since the psychical manifestation of stress and anxiety can be extreme levels of tension in men's shoulders, upper back, chest, and neck.

If men are experiencing this symptom, they can benefit immediately from a gentle shoulder rub given by a loved one.

12. A Messy House

anxiety symptoms in men messy house

When your brain is already filled to the brim with anxiety, doing one more thing can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Men might shut off if they feel like they need to do the laundry, dishes, or another chore. This leads to more anxiety, since clean laundry and dishes are necessary for life, and more exhaustion since the chores become even more overwhelming.

This is a particularly insidious symptom of anxiety because of what it can do to relationships. Spouses, partners, and roommates can become frustrated by their partner's inability to help maintain the house. Conversations about the topic can become arguments or sources of strain with no easy solution. When male anxiety symptoms go undiagnosed and unmanaged, it might not seem like any relief is coming.

Luckily, this symptom can be helped by other people. Someone getting in control of their anxiety can Doordash paper plates, bowls, and utensils for a few weeks, purchase microwave or oven-baked meals, and hire a cleaning service to bring their house back to a base level of clean. Even without a visit to a therapist, help is readily available for someone ready to accept it.

Men with anxiety may be embarrassed to ask for help or feel like the house is their "man cave" and safe space when it's cluttered, but a clean space helps mental health. Cleaning professionals are experienced and will be able to help you or your loved one get things under control. Don't be afraid of asking for help or doing things to make life easier for as long as you need it.

13. Struggling at Work or School

If you've met any college students recently, they might have been able to check off every item on this list. Struggling at work or school is no exception.

School requires a lot more than just showing up to class and turning in papers. Even showing up to class can be a struggle for someone with anxiety!

Working with classmates and roommates, class discussions, group projects, homework questions, meeting with the professor, talking to academic advisors, and other day-to-day aspects of college life can feel like the Feats of Hercules. Constantly feeling like you're forgetting an exam or misunderstood an assignment drains energy. Add in a dash of perfectionism and you've made a perfect storm for a mental health crisis.

Work isn't always better. Deadlines still exist, social situations still need to be navigated, and promotions require talking to people.

If you find yourself consistently struggling in school or work and you can't figure out why, meet with a counselor to talk about what's happening. It might be that unmanaged symptoms of anxiety in men are keeping you stressed when you could be thriving.

School and work don't have to feel like jogging through peanut butter. If academic or work performance are what finally push you to get help, that's fantastic! Many therapists and counselors are men, and they get it. Good luck, and have fun.

More Help With Male Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety symptoms in men are no joke; trust me, I've been there myself.

After years of hiding my own emotions and anxiety symptoms, I eventually learned some healthy relaxation techniques that really work. To share these methods with others, I wrote a book about conquering anxiety attacks: Don't Panic, Do This! 100+ Ways to Stop Panic Attacks and Anxiety. If this sounds like something that could be helpful to you, I invite you to give it a read!

I hope you like it and applaud you for bravely facing anxiety head-on; proudly and fearlessly!


[1] Renewal Lodge - The Connection Between Anxiety and Addiction

[2] WebMD - The Link Between Anxiety & Headaches

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About the Author

Years of personal experience with anxiety disorders and panic attacks have led me to devise some pretty creative ways to keep my anxiety in check. In the past, anxiety and panic attacks felt like something I'd have to live with forever. Nowadays, panic attacks are a distant memory for me, and I'm free to pursue passions like writing and traveling the world. Hopefully, the information on this website can help you achieve the same. I do all the writing here myself, so don't hesitate to reach out with questions!

Tyler Ellis

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