Emotional stress in men: Signs you should look for help

If you are struggling to cope with stress on your own, seek professional help.

If you are struggling to cope with stress on your own, seek professional help.

Photo credit: fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Emotional stress is a widespread problem that can significantly impact your health.
  • If you are struggling to cope with stress, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

It is no secret that men are often subjected to emotional stress. Whether it is from work, relationships, or other factors, the pressure can be overwhelming. And while many men try to tough it out and deal with things on their own, there are times when it is important to seek help.

What is stress?

Stress is the body's response to any demand. Stress can come from an external source like a job or household responsibilities or an internal source like worries or fears.

When you perceive a threat, your brain signals your body to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This "fight-or-flight" response gives you a burst of energy and strength to deal with the situation.

In small doses, stress can be beneficial. It can help you stay alert and focused, give you an extra boost of energy when you need it, and motivate you to meet a deadline. But when it is constant or overwhelming, it takes a toll on your health.

What are the signs of stress?

Physical signs

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

Emotional signs

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Anger, irritability, or aggression
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sadness or depression

Behavioural signs of emotional stress in men

1. Withdrawing from social activities: He may stop going to the gym, cancel plans with friends, and avoid social events.

2. Changes in eating habits: Emotional stress can lead to changes in appetite, and a man may either overeat or lose his appetite altogether. He may also comfort eat, indulging in unhealthy foods.

3. Difficulty sleeping: Stress can cause sleeplessness, and a man may find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep for extended periods. He may also suffer from nightmares or wake up frequently during the night.

4. Self-harming behaviours: A man under emotional stress may start self-harming, either through physical means such as cutting or burning himself or by engaging in risky behaviour such as excessive drinking or drug use.

5. Aggressive or violent behaviour: A man who is under a lot of stress may lash out physically or become verbally aggressive. This behaviour is often a result of feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

Effects stress has on your body

Emotional stress can take a toll on your body. If you experience chronic (long-term) stress, your body constantly produces stress hormones, leading to headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, upset stomach, sleep problems, low libido, anxiety, and depression.

Emotional stress can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses.

In addition, if you are struggling with emotional stress, you may be more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking or overeating. 

Stress can also make existing conditions worse. For example, stress can trigger an asthma attack if you have asthma.  If you have heart disease, stress can worsen your symptoms and increase your risk of a heart attack.

How to relieve emotional stress

  • Regular exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. It releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
  • Deep breathing: When you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, deep breathing can help you relax.
  • Yoga: It combines deep breathing and physical activity to help you relax both your mind and body.
  • Meditation: Meditation can help you focus and calm your mind.
  • Spending time in nature: Spending time in nature can help reduce stress levels.
  • Spending time with friends and family: Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress.

When to seek professional help

If you are struggling to cope with stress on your own, seek professional help. A therapist can help you identify the source of your stress and develop coping mechanisms. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, medication may also be recommended.

Warning signs that you need professional help

  • You are using alcohol or drugs to cope with stress
  • You are having difficulty performing daily tasks
  • You are withdrawn and isolate yourself from others
  • Your eating habits have changed
  • You are experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Suicide thoughts or attempts

If you are experiencing these warning signs, seek help immediately. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can start feeling better.