24 June 2016 Comments Off on Men’s Anxiety

Men’s Anxiety

Young man with hand in hair suffering from headache in bed

As many as one in every five Australian men experiences some degree of anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Feeling anxious during high pressure situations or during periods of high stress is completely normal. Indeed, anxiety is even beneficial in these situations, as it triggers the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters that allow the body to function more efficiently to meet the challenge at hand.

In some individuals, however, anxiety occurs at levels far out of proportion to the stressor, persist long after the challenging situation has past, or occurs seemingly at random, with no discernible trigger. In these cases, anxiety becomes excessive and can interfere with one’s ability to carry out normal daily activities.

Diagnosing Anxiety in Men

Symptoms of anxiety can vary, but typically include persistent worrying, incessant feelings of fear, agitation, thoughts of catastrophe, and defensiveness. Anxiety may be accompanied by addition, perfectionism, difficulty concentrating, and a high need for control. Sufferers may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and generally stressed out. Anxiety can also manifest in obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors.

Anxiety is easy to identify in those who are outwardly nervous, but not all anxiety sufferers are obviously uneasy. Many sufferers, however, may seem calm, while their brain is in overdrive. This may be especially true of men who have been taught to maintain strict self-control and to not let their feelings show.

Anxiety Triggers in Men

It can be difficult to predict who might be affected by anxiety, but there are a few risk factors that can make an individual more vulnerable to worry. Some risk factors for anxiety disorders include:

Family history – Anxiety and other mental health issues can have a genetic component. If you have a parent, sibling, or other close relative with an anxiety disorder it doesn’t automatically mean you will develop a problem with anxiety, simply that you may have an increased risk.

Personality type – Research has found that people who possess certain personality traits such as being a perfectionist or timid may develop problems with anxiety.

Substance abuse – The relationship between substance abuse and anxiety is a tricky one. In some cases, use of alcohol or drugs leads to anxiety, while in other cases, people suffering from anxiety frequently self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Regardless of which came first, a vicious cycle can result.

Mental health issues – Some people experience anxiety as a standalone condition, while others experience anxiety in conjunction with depression or other mental health conditions.

Anxiety triggers can vary from one patient to the next, but usually involve prolonged stress or intensely stressful situations. Some common triggers include: changes in employment status, job dissatisfaction, changes in living arrangements, birth or adoption of a baby, relationship difficulties, trauma, abuse, loss of a loved one, and chronic illness or physical disability. In some cases, anxiety can be a symptom of a physical condition, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause.

Neurofeedback for Men with Anxiety

Patients with anxiety are frequently prescribed medication that eases the symptoms of anxiety to make it easier to function, but medication can cause unwanted side effects without doing anything to stop the anxiety long-term. This can lead to dependence and possible recurrence of anxiety.

For many patients, retraining the brain with neurofeedback can teach the brain how to work more effectively and alleviate anxiety beyond treatment. During a neurofeedback session, sensors are placed on the patient’s head to detect and analyse brainwaves and the patient is instructed to watch a movie or play a game. As brainwaves associated with calm increase, the move or game runs brighter and more smoothly. As brainwaves associated with anxiety increase, the movie or game fades and stops. Through this system of reward and punishment, the brain learns how to function in a way that produces less anxiety without the side effects that can be caused by medication. Over time, as the brain learns to function more normally, less medication may be needed.

If anxiety is interfering with your life, call Perth Brain Centre on (08) 6500 3277 now to arrange an appointment to find out whether neurofeedback can help you.


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