Male mental health spotlight ; let’s talk about anxiety in men

Male mental health spotlight ; let’s talk about anxiety in men

male anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions. It is reported that 3 million Canadians suffer from a mood and/or Anxiety disorder. 1

Unfortunately, there is a gender gap in the number of men and women who seek help for anxiety disorder. Some research suggests this is because women are under more stress. However, the overarching research is leaning toward the theory that men are less likely to seek mental health support. 

It is concerning that male suicide rates represent 75% of total suicides in Canada.

Whilst we cannot assume a direct correlation between help-seeking behaviours and the severity of disorders, it’s clear that more needs to be done about male mental health. 

In today’s article, we are looking at male anxiety.

There are many different anxiety disorders; the most common, we will cover in the article today. Before we do, we want to make it clear:

“anxiety can affect anyone.”

First of all, Anxiety is a disorder which affects both genders and doesn’t care what job you do either.  Anxiety effects people in all professions and from every background.

It is also a disorder which regularly gets confused with stress, but anxiety is very different from stress.

Someone experiencing anxiety can experience very physical symptoms; if severe, these symptoms can be completely debilitating and completely change that person’s life.   

Anxiety can take someone from living a normal life to someone who is bed bound and unable to function.

Unfortunately, because of social stigma and shame, many men do not get the support they need. 2. More often than not, men will respond to anxiety by brushing symptoms under the carpet, self-medicating and managing the disorder as best they can. 

This avoidance behaviour can lead to symptoms worsening so that by the time treatment is sought, the anxiety has progressed to the severe category and is more difficult to treat. We hope that some of the stigmas can be removed through a conversation about male anxiety.

While reading this article’s content, it is important to use your intuition and self-awareness; if this content does not resonate with you, then that’s fine. There may be some men who do not see themselves in this article, and there may be some women who do. 



It is also important to note that when we say men, we mean everyone who identifies as male. We are not using gender here to divide but as a useful way to describe a certain response to anxiety which, according to research, is common in those who identify as male.  

Most common Anxiety Disorders

Let’s start with a brief overview of the different anxiety disorders; many people are unaware of the broad spectrum of this disorder; anxiety can show up in our lives in multiple ways.


A disorder which leads to avoidance of certain objects or situations. Common phobias are fear of spiders, fear of snakes or fear of heights. There are also phobias which can develop, such as fear of open spaces and agoraphobia, which can lead a person to become homebound due to fear of leaving their home. 

Panic Disorder:

Panic disorder is when an individual has recurring panic attacks. Often these panic attacks can happen out of the blue, making this condition so hard to manage and deal with.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

This disorder is characterized by a person who feels anxious in a wide variety of situations. Like panic disorder, there is often not a specific trigger which sets off generalized anxiety disorder; the individual becomes anxious and worried in a variety of everyday situations, which can make it very difficult to function.

The person will likely be worrying about their finances, work, relationships, health, etc. GAD is difficult to deal with because it encompasses so many areas of life. 

The GAD7 Questionnaire is commonly used by professionals to give a first indication of whether an individual has generalized anxiety disorder. We always encourage you to seek out professional advice if you are concerned about symptoms.

However, we understand it can also be useful to have some tools to help you to identify symptoms you might be experiencing. Answer the questions below as best you can, and if you like, you can use the GAD7 calculator below to get an initial score. 

GAD7 Anxiety Test Questionnaire

Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?

Not being able to stop or control worrying?

Worrying too much about different things?

Trouble relaxing?

Being so restless that it is hard to sit still?

Becoming easily annoyed or irritable?

Feeling afraid as if something awful might happen?

GAD 7 Calculator 

This calculator will give you an indication as to whether you have generalized anxiety, either Normal / Mild / Moderate or Severe. Please note that if you are concerned about symptoms, it is best to speak to a professional for a formal diagnosis. 

Check your score out of 21 on the calculator 


OCD is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; persons with this disorder try to gain some control over their environment through their repetitive behaviours. There is a wide range of behaviours that can be adopted. 

Social Anxiety:

Social anxiety is the fear of being watched or judged by others. Social anxiety can make it very difficult to engage in public activities, attend social events, and make friends.

Health Anxiety: 

Health Anxiety is the fear of becoming ill or dying from an illness. People with health anxiety can fixate on physical sensations that they are experiencing and become anxious that the sensation means that they have a severe illness. Health anxiety is part of the OCD spectrum of disorders.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety in Men 

As we have just seen, a wide range of anxiety disorders exist. Each of these has its own set of symptoms to look out for, so we are not going to go into an extensive list of each disorder.  

However, we want to highlight some common anxiety symptoms experienced by men. For men, symptoms can be more physical. And these physical symptoms can be broken down into Cardiovascular Symptoms, Muscle tension and Gastrointestinal symptoms. 


List of Common Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Tension
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Anger 
  • Irritability 

Research also highlights that men are more likely to misuse substances to control their symptoms of anxiety than women. 3

Mental Healthcare Seeking in Men

More research needs to be conducted into the mental healthcare seeking of men and how it differs from women. What research can tell us now is that men use mental health services less than women in all age groups apart from those over 80, when the opposite is true. 4.

Shockingly 75% of suicides in Canada are male; this is observed across the entire lifespan. 5.

Research also shows us that men are less likely to seek help for their mental health in environments where masculinity and strength are perceived as solving issues and dealing with problems alone. Loneliness and social isolation is also a big risk factor for suicide.

It is important to talk about the topic and remove the associated stigma to bring these figures down and start improving male mental health. As we stated at the beginning of this article, anxiety is a medical disorder that can affect anyone regardless of status, occupation or gender. 

The best people to help someone who is dealing with anxiety are trained professionals. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, they can either approach their doctor or come straight to a clinic like The Story Isn’t Over; we have a team of qualified psychotherapists ready to help. We have also put some useful resources that specialize in male mental health. 

Top Resources

Heads Up Guys: An online resource set up to help prevent male suicide. 

Dudes Club: Community for men’s health & wellness 

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation: A Charity for Men’s Health





Author: Cheryl Clarke graduated with a BA Hons in English Literature & Creative Writing, she is currently studying an MSc in Psychology at Northumbria University. Cheryl has also completed a teaching qualification in Mindfulness & Compassion and she writes about Mental Health and Stress.

Peer Reviewed: Trish McLean is the Director of The Story Isn’t Over. She has worked in healthcare for 25 years. First, as a registered nurse and then as a counsellor and psychotherapist. Trish has a Ph.D. in Theology from Edinburgh University in Scotland and has worked all over the world including in India, Uganda, the United Kingdom and, now, in Canada.

Blog Categories