image of a man of color sitting on a couch who is crying and in distress

How Anger Issues Present Differently In Men Than Women

Everyone feels anger and that’s a good thing. It’s an emotion that can protect us and guide us to a deeper understanding of what we think and feel. Without regulation, anger can be destructive and self-destructive. This is the kind of rage most often associated with men. However, things are more complicated than that. Men and women, generally speaking, express anger differently.

Put simply, women more often rationalize their anger and will aim it inward. Men usually opt for more obvious expressions like hostility and aggression. These differences grow out of genetic differences and due to socialization. Either way, if left unaddressed, anger can have a very negative impact on our lives.

There Are Different Types Of Anger — And Many Causes

When someone lets loose with tantrums and abuse, this is called outward anger. There’s no doubt what’s going on. As noted above, there is also inward anger. Unable or unwilling to express their emotions openly, some folks will choose negative self-talk and perhaps even self-harm. A third variation is passive (or passive-aggression). This happens if the person opts for indirect methods of displaying how mad they are, e.g. sarcasm, silent treatment, or sulking.

Regardless of how it’s expressed, anger has common causes for both men and women. For example:

  • Troubles at home, work, or school
  • Relationship issues
  • General stress and frustration — from traffic jams to not getting a parking spot
  • Money problems
  • Feeling unappreciated or being treated unfairly

Do Men Have Unique Anger Triggers?

Short answer: yes. To elaborate and sum up, at the same time, a real or imagined threat to their masculinity is the most prominent, general cause of male anger. If this is a rare occasion, you can probably work on it on your own. However, as you’re about to see, there are some signs that anger is becoming an issue for a man.

image of a man of color sitting on a couch who is crying and in distress4 Red Flags For Male Anger

If any of the below signs are present, it could very much mean a man in your life would benefit from talking to a professional.

1. Others Are Walking On Egg Shells

Take a good look around whenever you’re with this man. Are people relaxed? Do people avoid him to keep the peace? How do you feel in his presence? Do you find yourself appeasing him rather than risking a tantrum?

2. Defensive Behavior

Does he take things personally? Watch closely to see what happens when he receives constructive criticism. If this man appears to feel threatened, pay close attention if his response includes any of these:

  • Raised voice
  • Aggressive posture
  • Short temper
  • Shifting toward cruel or mean replies

3. Burned Bridges

Some people are loners, and that’s fine. But if the man in question seems to burn bridges, take note. Can they maintain long-term friendships? Are they on speaking terms with at least one ex? Is his resume five pages long because he doesn’t stay long at jobs?

4. Passive Anger

We touched on this above, but because it’s so insidious, it bears repeating. Be on the lookout for:

  • Stonewalling
  • Claiming to be “just kidding” when they insult you or use sarcasm
  • Blaming everyone else
  • Gaslighting
  • Silent treatment and withholding positive energy

Navigating Your Way Through The Anger

You might be a man who recognizes what’s described above. Perhaps there’s a man in your life that fits the profile. The good news is that anger can be effectively managed. The tricky part is asking for help. To streamline this process, we invite you to reach out to learn more about therapy for men. This will give us a chance to talk about what’s going on and ease you onto the path of healing.

man clasping hands together in front of face who looks nervous

What Is Life Like For Men After A Divorce?

The pop culture image of a divorced man usually involves playing the field and not doing any housework. It’s as if we imagine grown men transforming back into a teenager the moment the divorce papers are signed. But what if I told you that divorce is tougher for men than it is for women? This is not always the case but, as is detailed below, there are specific reasons why men struggle so much.

One big factor relates to societal expectations. Males are rarely encouraged to express their emotions. Therefore, when something like a divorce happens, they try to skip over the part where they acknowledge the loss. Let’s explore a few more factors.

What Is Life Like For Men After A Divorce?

It Hurts

Even if the divorce was the best step for everyone involved, a change of this magnitude is a serious loss. You may have times that it feels like a relief — like you’ve been liberated — but you don’t walk away unscathed. This goes double if it was a long marriage and/or you had kids together.

Meanwhile, as touched on above, men prefer to avoid emotions like grief. This is partly due to unrealistic standards but also because those expectations have not prepared men for something as intense as grief. Without mourning, they are left to find unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse or risky sex to self-medicate.

They Try to “Move On” Too Fast

Moving on, in the usual sense that phrase is intended, requires some processing and resolving. Setting up a Tinder profile doesn’t demonstrate that you’ve put your previous marriage behind you.

Depleted Social Life

When a couple splits up, it puts mutual friends in an awkward spot. Since men are more likely to be loners who do not tend to close friendships, it’s often the case that most friends gravitate to the man’s ex-wife. Social isolation is obviously not what a newly divorced person needs.

Declining Mental and Physical Health

We’re back to talking about society again. Men are not likely to report symptoms and without a partner to encourage them, they will avoid medical appointments. Their life’s structure has dramatically shifted and this can negatively impact them in multiple ways.

man clasping hands together in front of face who looks nervousNone of the Above is Inevitable

Any man at any time can break the mold. Below are some basic suggestions to make the divorce transition less stressful. Note: It should go without saying that if you have children, they must remain a major priority in your life no matter what you’re going through.

Grieve

Maybe no buddy of yours talks about grief. You probably weren’t taught anything about it. Well, be the one who breaks the cycle. Connect with a therapist to help guide you through one of life’s unavoidable lessons: loss.

Try New Things

A divorce can cause a man to lose a powerful source of his identity. Use your therapy sessions to rediscover and/or reimagine who you are.

Create a Social Circle

Sure, your social life is in disarray. This is no reason to spend your time alone. Reconnect with old friends. Make new friends by finding new interests. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and laugh. Find connections who will listen and support you.

Take Your Time With Relationships

There’s no rush. This may feel counterintuitive but you don’t have to jump right into bed — or into another deeper commitment. Yes, you will need and want to “get out there” again. But take some time to reconnect with yourself and to process the lessons learned from the divorce.

Again, working with a therapist is a proven path for navigating something as big as a divorce.

man resting hands against head who looks stressed

What Are Anxiety Attack Symptoms In Men?

The most common mental health conditions in the world are anxiety disorders. Statistically speaking, women are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. But this doesn’t mean men do not suffer widely from this issue. In fact, since men are traditionally less likely to report mental health symptoms, the real numbers are probably much higher.

Like all mental health conditions, anxiety can manifest uniquely for each person. This includes a documented difference in how males and females respond to such a disorder. For example, research shows women commonly choose avoidance while men more often turn to substance abuse. Obviously, it’s important for us to understand such different reactions.

What Is An Anxiety Attack?

Unlike a panic attack, an anxiety attack is not technically a diagnosable event. The clearest way to understand an anxiety attack is to view it as a convergence of many symptoms at once. Take a look at the list of anxiety symptoms below. Then imagine any combination of them striking at the same time.

Common Anxiety Symptoms In Males

Physical:

  • Extreme sweating
  • Unexplained muscle aches and tension
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart rate
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Shortness of breath/Choking sensation
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Trembling and shaking

Emotional: 

  • A consistent feeling of dread
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Worst-case scenario types of worrying
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Avoidance
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Restlessness and edginess
  • Forgetfulness
  • Intense fear of being out of control

man resting hands against head who looks stressedThis is not to say women will not also experience some of these symptoms. For men, however, many of these signs can be viewed as a “weakness” and thus lead to panicked efforts to suppress them. When this happens, anxiety becomes heightened and the chances of a full-blown anxiety attack are higher.

What Causes Anxiety And Anxiety Attacks In Males?

An anxiety attack is a possibility for anyone — regardless of age or sex — when life has become very stressful for them. The loss of a loved one, financial woes, relationship strife, and so much more can trigger any and all of the symptoms listed above. In short doses, this is normal, inevitable, and manageable. When stress symptoms linger and become unmanageable, you could be on cusp of an anxiety attack.

Besides the universal trends just mentioned, there are some anxiety attack causes that are quite specific to males. These include:

  • Low testosterone: Hormones are not just a female problem. There is a direct correlation between anxiety increasing as a man ages — and testosterone levels decline.
  • Substance use and abuse: Of course, this can affect women, too. But substance issues are more common in men and this is often because drugs and alcohol are used to self-medicate problems like high anxiety.
  • Societal expectations: Generally speaking, men are not encouraged to acquire the complex language needed to express emotions. This can lead to having less close relationships. Combine these two tendencies and you have a recipe for increased anxiety.

It’s So Important to Ask For Help

Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder that cannot and should not be brushed off. Left unchecked, it can lead to anxiety attacks and seriously hamper your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. As highlighted throughout this post, men can be reluctant to own up to anxious feelings. Fortunately, therapy is private and confidential.

Any man struggling with worry and dread can reach out and get the help they need and deserve — without divulging anything to others in their life. Your weekly therapy sessions are a safe space to talk openly about emotions. You and your therapist work as a team to reveal underlying issues while discovering productive new approaches. Reach out if you are ready to learn more about therapy for men.

Jonathan Guzman, MA, LPCC jonathan.guzman@affinitypsych.com

Jonathan Guzman is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in individual, family, and couples counseling. He works with adolescents and adults to explore meaning, cultivate purpose, and envision ways through all of life’s challenges. He believes in person-centered care with a focus on healing and becoming our best selves.

man of color dressed in a nice hoodie stroking beard looking off into distance

Male Anxiety When in Relationships: What Causes It?

Relationships cause anxiety. But… not all anxiety is bad. When you meet someone you really like, it could make you feel very excited but nervous around them. This is a form of anxiety. In most cases, it’s not anything to worry about. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy the butterflies in your stomach feeling as you get to know this new person.

Relationship Anxiety is something else. It manifests as a sense of dread. You may worry that you’re not good enough to have a healthy relationship or that your partner doesn’t really love you. As with many other forms of anxiety, men experience Relationship Anxiety in their own way.

A Little More About Relationship Anxiety

Relationship Anxiety is a common form of insecurity. Left unchecked, it can escalate and impact your daily life. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Short Relationships: Are you ending relationships — one way or another — just before they get serious? Do you see yourself as shying away from commitment?
  • Putting Yourself Second: You’re so afraid of “chasing” your partner away that you do not assert yourself or your needs within the relationship.
  • Overthinking: What did they mean by that? You might be analyzing everything your partner says and does. This causes worry and makes you doubt your compatibility.
  • Not Having Fun: Relationships are supposed to be fun. If you spend more time stressing out than laughing and smiling, there might be an underlying cause.

Men with Relationship Anxiety probably see their actions and perspective as logical. I’m just trying to be a good partner, they tell themselves. Such a mindset is very male. You detach from the emotions and go into problem-solving mode. Meanwhile, you and your partner would be much better off if you were allowing yourself to feel and identify what’s really going on.

man of color dressed in a nice hoodie stroking beard looking off into distanceWhat Causes Anxiety in Relationships For Men?

Past Relationships 

A toxic partnership and an ugly breakup are hard to bounce back from. If those emotions are left unresolved, you may project them on any prospective partner. Also, you may be unknowingly dealing with low self-esteem due to relationship trauma. These are the type of issues best addressed in the presence of an experienced therapist.

General Anxiety

Anxiety is very common in men but a remarkably low number of men seek help. Living day-to-day with generalized anxiety will inevitably carry over to parts of your life. If you don’t let down your guard long enough to identify the existence of an anxiety disorder, it’s very tough to recognize how it’s impacting your relationships.

Attachment Style

This is the big one — the elephant in the room, as they say. As an infant and young child, you develop an attachment style based on how you are treated by your parents or caregivers. This is precisely where long-term insecurities are created. Therefore, as an adult, you may be sabotaging your romantic connections without even knowing how or why. Good news: With the help of counseling, you can change your attachment style even as an adult.

You Can Manage Relationship Anxiety

The first step for men is acceptance. It is not a “weakness” to feel anxious, worried, or nervous. Accept that something emotional is interfering with your happiness and then start doing the work to figure out the root cause. From there, you can try some self-help techniques like:

  • Maintain a daily self-care regimen
  • Engage in positive self-talk
  • Appreciate the people in your life who support you
  • Express what you are feeling — especially to your partner

Most importantly, reach out to a professional to begin the process of self-exploration. Men can manage relationship anxiety. So, let’s get started on the path to healing and recovery with Therapy For Men. Feel free to contact us soon.

man sitting down with his hand holding his head

How And Why Do Men Experience Depression Differently Than Women?

There are so many differences between the sexes. The topic of depression really drives home that point. Let’s briefly touch on one of the most dramatic ways men and women experience depression differently. Roughly two times as many women are diagnosed with depression than men. However, this could be because women (in general) are more likely to seek mental health care.

Meanwhile, untreated depression is believed to be the number cause of suicide. Therefore, while women are more like to have suicidal thoughts, men account for 80 percent of suicides in the U.S. Let’s dig deeper into this and other differences.

How and Why Men Experience Depression Differently Than Women

Rumination vs. Aggression

As touched on above, depression symptoms differ between men and women. Generally speaking, women will be more prone to dwell on negative thoughts, self-blame, and cry. This does not help with depression at all but it does alert loved ones to an existing problem.

Men, conditioned to not show “weakness,” unconsciously distract themselves. Rather than ruminate, they act out. Men with depression become aggressive, openly display anger, and can become threatening. In addition, men are far more likely to rely on substance abuse as a form of self-medication. From there, risky behavior can escalate to other reckless choices, e.g. gambling, driving dangerously, and having unsafe sex.

While all of this does prevent men from ruminating, it also prevents them from seeking care for the underlying cause. Needless to say, it will make life uncomfortable and miserable for the people in their lives.

Other Forms of Distraction

The following behaviors are more common in men with depression:

  • Overworking and obsessing over work-related tasks
  • Self-isolating
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Becoming very controlling

These choices, within the dominant culture, allow a man to mask his pain through acts that are often viewed as “masculine.”

man sitting down with his hand holding his headCo-Existing Mental Disorders

Women with depression have been found to have a higher incidence of co-existing conditions like anxiety, panic disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The most prevalent are eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. Almost 95 percent of anorexia cases occur in young females. Girls in this age range are often struggling with depression. Societal body standards play a big role in both issues.

Biological Differences

Research continues, but recent studies found molecular differences in the brains of males and females. Also, hormonal differences between the sexes could impact the onset of depression. This would account for why adolescent and teenage girls have such a high incidence of depressive episodes.

Awareness

More anecdotally — but widespread anecdotally — it appears women are more in tune with their emotions and changes thereof. Hence, they will be more aware of the signs of depression and report these feelings. Men usually do not seek support until depression manifests in obvious physical symptoms. Even then, men look for treatment for the physical issue and not any potential psychological cause.

Self-Harm and Suicide

To return to where we started up top, this is the elephant in the room. Anyone diagnosed with depression is considered a risk for suicide. But what about all those men who do not talk about it and thus, do not get treatment? Also, we must never downplay the fact that women are at risk for suicide, too.

Now What?

There is no blood test or x-ray that shows anyone to have depression. Diagnosing this common disorder is a process that requires the help of a skilled professional. While women display telltale signs more often, this is not something to be subject to guesswork. If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the potential signs of depression, it is essential that you speak to a mental health practitioner for guidance and support.