Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting roughly 40 million adults. There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and more. However, when it comes to the umbrella of anxiety disorders, women are more likely to experience anxiety symptoms.
Although women have historically had higher rates of a lifetime diagnosis of anxiety disorders, the prevalence of men suffering silently from anxiety disorders is hard to pinpoint. This may be due to the fact that anxiety in men presents differently.
Do Men Have Anxiety?
Men’s mental health is often overlooked, and it is quite possible the statistics on gender differences in anxiety symptoms might be skewed. That’s because of men’s mental health stigma when it comes to speaking about their feelings and emotions.
Additionally, only 36% of adults that have an anxiety disorder seek treatment for it. This means it is possible that both men with a diagnosed anxiety disorder and those who have no diagnosis may not be addressing their mental health challenges.
Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders
Some of the risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder include:
- Low self-esteem
- Age and marital status (younger, unmarried people may have a higher likelihood of having a mood or anxiety disorder)
- Family history of depression or anxiety
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Education level
- Low household income
- Living environment
- Ethnicity (those who identify as Caucasian may have increased associations with panic disorders)
- Other mental health concerns. Almost half of all individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have comorbid depression.
Gender Differences in Symptoms for Anxiety Disorders
The symptoms of anxiety are different for everyone, and men’s symptoms of anxiety may be very different than women’s symptoms of anxiety.
Women suffering from anxiety may exhibit symptoms such as feeling weak or tired, having difficulty concentrating, or experiencing an increased heart rate. They may live with a sense of impending doom, and this could make them feel extremely nervous.
On the other hand, common symptoms of anxiety in men may include:
- Anger or irritability
- Suffering from frequent or persistent headaches
- Muscle aches or pains
- Drug or alcohol use disorder
One thing that makes trying to explain anxiety to someone so tricky is that each individual can have a different set of symptoms. For example, when individuals don’t recognize chronic irritability or headaches as a sign of an anxiety disorder, they may write it off as stress or simply feeling overwhelmed at the time. (Anxiety so bad you can’t sleep? Try these tips.)
Further, almost half of all individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have comorbid depression. For men who have both depression and anxiety, they may see these symptoms as part of depression, and not realize they also have anxiety because those conditions share many symptoms.
This confusion may lead men to avoid starting a conversation with their healthcare provider about their symptoms and emotions.
Normalizing the Conversation Around Men and Anxiety
Talking publicly about men’s battle with mental illness is important. American basketball player and Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love has spoken publicly about his depression and anxiety, sharing how he suffered a panic attack in the middle of an NBA game. Michael Phelps has spoken about the Olympics and mental health challenges he faced after competing. Notable figures like Love, Phelps, and others may help make strides in giving men the power they need to speak about their anxiety, know when they need anxiety medication, and find support.
Accessing Social Support
A difficult part in helping men break through the stigmas attached to gender and anxiety disorders is a lack of understanding about how men seek and receive social support. Research published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that the patterns of men’s social connectedness are diverse, and that some sets of behaviors may negatively impact their mental health. The researchers discovered that men often feel the need to act more independently, relying less on their social network to help them through negative events or feelings.
Men who can break down those established gender boundaries, and build a strong community, may have support to help them cope with anxiety and other mental health challenges. A social network, be it with friends, family, or others, is important for improving mental health conditions.
How Men Can Leverage PGx Testing for Anxiety Treatment
With many mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, there may be a combination of genetic and social factors that impact treatment options. A DNA test for anxiety medication can help your healthcare provider personalize your treatment plan, including prescribing drugs that may lead to a lower side effect rate or greater chance of achieving efficacy.
Genetic testing is a way to look at your unique genetics to shed light on how your body responds to medications. This DNA testing for medication can help your healthcare provider make more informed treatment decisions designed to reduce the exhausting process of trial and error when it comes to different anxiety disorder medications.
Genomind® Professional PGx Express™ looks at 24 genes related to mental health treatment. It provides guidance across 10+ mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, and 130+ medications to help clinicians determine:
- Which medications may be more or less likely to be effective
- Which medications may have side effects
- How you metabolize medications for personalized dosing guidance
The Genomind PGx test can be done at a clinician’s office—or from the comfort of your home. It requires a prescription, and Genomind can help connect you with a verified Genomind provider near you. Get started by filling out this form.
Is Your Mental Health Treatment Working for You?
Genomind’s pharmacogenetic testing provides you and your healthcare provider with insight into your unique genetic profile. This detailed report can lead to more personalized medication selection and dosage for anxiety disorders that’s more likely to be effective and sustainable.