Understanding stress in Men

Stress and men have had a connection for a while with so many responsibilities that they have to handle. It can be their work pressure or personal life that leads to it. No matter what the reason is, men have to deal with a lot of stress in their life. Let’s have a look at this relationship and its effect. 

Maintaining a work life balance has always been tricky for men as they are always loaded with responsibilities on their shoulders. Whether it is that work meeting at eight in the morning or dropping their kids to school, these men have their hands full. They skip breakfast to make sure they are able to make it to the office on time, while leaving work on time to make sure that they are able to make it to that date they had been waiting for. We can almost call them real life superheroes. 

According to a study of 2016 published in the Journal of Brain and Behaviour, women are twice as likely to suffer from severe stress and anxiety as men. However, while trying to find work life balance for their partner and kids as well as working well in their career, men are too dealing with severe stress. In fact, they are using unhealthy coping strategies to deal with it, such as smoking or drinking. 

A health survey in India revealed that around 80% of men were under stress due to inadequate rest and heavy workload, while the percentage of women under stress was 74%. Severe stress can certainly wear you out and even lead to serious health issues later on. So how about we talk about it more, letting you know how much it can affect you and your health? Let’s have a look:

What is Stress?

Everyone gets stressed at some point or the other. It is a human reaction that can happen to anyone. Your body has been created in a way to experience stress when you face a new situation or a challenge. And when you feel stress, your body reacts to it physically as well as mentally.

These reactions can come up when you are trying to adjust to a new situation, such as moving to a new city, meeting new people, a break up from a serious relationship and much more. In some cases, stress can be positive as well, keeping you alert and motivating you, for instance, when you have a job interview the next week or a science test two days later for which you need to prepare. This stress will only help you work harder while keeping you awake longer at night so that you can prepare well. However, stress in men can become a health problem when it continues to go on without any reason as well as without any period of relief. This is known as chronic stress. 

Symptoms of Stress in Men

Chronic stress can make you agitated as well as under confident as a man. Along with that, this constant stress leads to wear and tear on your body and develops certain physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms of stress in you. 

The physical symptoms of chronic stress in men can be:

  • headache
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • upset stomach
  • heartburn
  • muscle tension
  • neck, back, or chest pain
  • fatigue
  • rapid heart rate
  • difficulty concentrating
  • trouble achieving or maintaining an erection
Stress affecting a man's work.

The psychological symptoms of chronic stress in men are:

  • anxiety
  • sadness or depression
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • anger
  • loss of interest in sex

The behavioural signs of long term stress in men are:

  • overeating or undereating
  • drug or alcohol misuse
  • social withdrawal or isolation
  • smoking
  • exercising less
  • gambling
  • clenching jaw or grinding teeth
  • nightmares
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • obsessive compulsive behaviours

Effect of Stress in Men

A man getting frustrated at work due to stress.

According to research by the American Psychological Association in 2010, men and women have different reactions to stress, physically as well as mentally. They try to manage stress in different ways and perceive their ability to do so. However, the fact is that due to this difference, the stress level in men is much more than women. While men and women could be equally stressed, men deal with stress differently. As they bottle up their feelings and emotions, they are subjected to more damage caused by the stress. 

One of the most negative effects of chronic stress in men is that it can actually make them sick with some of the worst diseases. The most common health issue that men deal with during stress is chronic pain in their neck, shoulders as well as back. Apart from that, it can also trigger headaches and migraines in men. If that wasn’t enough, chronic stress can affect a man’s immune system, making him more susceptible to colds and infections.

When a man is dealing with stress, it can also lead him to certain other diseases. Men dealing with chronic stress might be at risk for the following diseases: 

  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Male Infertility
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic Gastrointestinal Problems   

Conclusion

While most men believe that they are able to control everything in life, it is certainly not true. They should believe in the reality that not everything is in their hands and some things have to be let go. Such unrealistic expectations will only lead them to chronic stress which can have severe consequences if they do not come back to the real world. Also, if a man is going through a tough time and facing several adversities, he should approach therapy without any confounding thoughts and shame. Stress not only affects the man alone, it captures the entire family leading to multiple issues at home. 

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