When worry grabs you by the balls

Everyday, anxiety disorders affect the ability of approximately 8 million men to live a normal, happy life. And I'm not just talking about the sweaty palms, stomach butterflies and urge to soil your briefs you get every time you have to speak in public or call your father-in-law. No, I'm talking about feelings of worry, stress, fear and impending doom so severe they interfere with your ability to work, maintain relationships and even get a decent night's sleep.

What to look out for


  • Pounding Heart
  • Excessive sweating
  • Choking sensations
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Insomnia and exhaustion
  • Panic attacks


  • Dreadful feelings
  • Concentration problems
  • Inner tension and nervousness
  • Catastrophic thinking
  • Irritability or edginess
  • Hyper vigilance toward danger
  • Absentmindedness
  • Fear of losing control

Types of anxiety

General Anxiety Disorder Sufferers experience excessive worry and tensionâ€"even if there is nothing rational to worry about.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) People suffering from PTSD experience long lasting memories of traumatic events, such as fighting a battle or being sexually assaulted. Their inability to escape these intense recollections makes them emotionally numb and anxious.

Social Anxiety Disorder Social anxiety causes overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations and interactions.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) OCD causes the sufferer to experience constant anxiety and fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines.

Panic Disorder Causes people to experience terror (panic attacks) suddenly and without warning. Symptoms can resemble a heart attack.

Specific Phobias Sufferers have an intense, irrational fear of a specific object or situation.

Causes of anxiety

The exact causes of anxiety differ from man to man. For some men, anxiety might be triggered by a traumatic life event. For others, genetics or substance abuse could be the root cause. Stress, however, appears to play a major role in almost all anxiety sufferers. That's because stress can lead to an imbalance of anxiety regulating neurotransmitters (fancy word for brain chemicals), such as noradrenaline, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid. When these chemicals become out of whack, life-altering anxiety could be the result.

How do I get better?

A lot of guys treat anxiety like they treat a dog begging for a pork chop. They ignore it and hope it goes away. Unfortunately this strategy rarely works. If left untreated, anxiety will not only get worse, it may lead to a bunch of other nasty mental and physical ailments, including heart disease.

If your anxiety is relatively mild, you may be able to make some lifestyle changes to reduce your anxiety. See the Man Therapies section of my office for suggestions. If the anxiety is more severe, it is important that you reach out to a professional therapist in your area.

Connecting with a resource near you is a good place to start.