More than 8 million people in the UK have an anxiety disorder, and while the under 35’s and women are traditionally most at risk, men are increasingly making up the numbers.
There are now more pressures on the modern man, more family and social expectations which exist alongside old-fashioned ideas of men as stoic and dependable. This outmoded thinking creates stigma for those facing a mental health issue and can isolate some dealing with anxiety. Men are traditionally less likely to seek help for a mental health problem. A 2017 poll from the Priory Group revealed that 40% of men said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional advice. In comparison, women in developed countries tend to have a 20-40% higher reporting rate for mental health disorders and overall a significantly lower risk of suicide.
Men as a group typically have lower awareness and engagement with their mental health. In the case of anxiety, patients are often diagnosed with an acute panic attack in the A&E department when they’re rushed in with a suspected cardiac issue.
Anxiety as a disorder, is harder to spot in male colleagues and friends, it often manifests itself as anger or irritability. When expressed this way it’s often seen as an aspect of someone’s character, rather than a symptom of a mental health problem. It’s important to be aware that a sudden change in personality can be a sign of a serious mental health issue such as anxiety; we should not just expect the physical signs, such as sweaty palms and nervous avoidant behaviour.
Type A personalities, who are competitive, self-critical, and high-achieving are more prone to anxiety; but these people are regularly interpreted as high maintenance rather than experiencing a mental health problem. The results of an anxiety condition can be very disruptive to a person’s wellbeing; a fear of underperformance often causes mental paralysis, leaving simple decisions impossible, and daily life hard to negotiate.
Fortunately, anxiety is a very treatable condition. Simple activities like exercise or playing team sports can strengthen social bonds and ease symptoms. Making time to relax and creating space to think are essential for regulating normal thought patterns. If you are feeling anxious and would like to find better ways to unwind, take a few minutes to read our How to learn to relax guide.
The Bank Workers Charity exists to support the health and wellbeing of current and former bank workers and their families. Contact us on 0800 0234 834 or visit www.bwcharity.org.uk
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