Different Ways Stress Can Affect Men

Chronic stress is a dangerous and sometimes debilitating condition that can affect anyone. At its core, it’s a biological response meant to warn us of impending psychological and physiological issues. Yet, its continuous presence can lead to more serious problems.

Studies have found that men and women manage stress differently. In general, men are less likely to acknowledge triggers or seek professional help. Due to societal pressures, they may feel discouraged and choose to ignore symptoms regardless of their effect. This can be detrimental to those struggling to balance personal and professional obligations, such as work and fatherhood.

Chronic stress can increase the risk of the following conditions:

  • Major Depression: When left unchecked, stress is a gateway to other mental health disorders like depression, which affects six million men every year in the United States. It’s often a byproduct of unresolved feelings such as anxiousness and irritability.
  • Heart Disease: Stress plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s also been linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as excessive alcohol consumption, binge eating, physical inactivity and smoking. These are all factors that can damage arteries, weakening the heart.
  • Infertility: Studies have found that chronic stress impacts testosterone levels and reduces sperm production. Infertility is not just a “female issue.” In eight percent of couples, the male is listed as the only notable cause. Meanwhile, in 35 percent of cases both parties are identified.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Chronic stress can have short and long-term effects on gut health. This includes a weakened immune system and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea and food allergies.

How to Cope:

Stress management requires self-awareness and an open mind. Most triggers can be avoided through lifestyle changes such as eating healthier foods, increasing physical activity, and getting quality sleep. Other notable methods include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery. They’re simple actions that can help alleviate tension and boost one’s mood.

It’s also important to prioritize responsibilities. Whether it’s an office deadline, parent-teacher conference or taking out the trash, advanced planning reduces conflicts and allows room for necessary adjustments. If stress persists, contact a primary care physician to discuss additional treatment options. Some men may be reluctant to talk to a professional, so it’s imperative loved ones are an active and encouraging force.

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Photo credit: sturti

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