How Recognize the Stress Symptoms in Men

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When the pressures around a person outstrip their ability to cope with them, we call this stress. What we really mean is distress, because there are two kinds of stress: eustress, or helpful stress, and distress, which is unhelpful and damaging stress. Without some stress, we would not have the motivation to win races, solve problems, take exams and make important changes.

Stress is a protector in that it gives us a mechanism for dealing with threats. It prompts us to confront threats or avoid them—the so-called "fight or flight" mechanism. But stress, particularly long-term stress, can be a factor in the onset or worsening of ill health and a shortened lifespan.

Men are not always good at recognizing stress in themselves, and stress is clearly an individual experience. What one man finds stressful, another will not. What can be stressful at one time may not cause stress during another time. And the signs and symptoms of stress can also vary from person to person and from year to year.

Measuring Stress in Men

Stress can be measured in different ways, but testing usually takes the form of a self-report in which a person rates particular experiences, events, or feelings on a defined scale.

Perhaps the most well known of these is the SRRS (Social Readjustment Ratings Scale), developed in 1967 by the American psychiatrists Thomas H. Holmes and Richard Rahe. The SRRS lists a number of life events assumed to be stressful, such as moving or the death of a spouse or other close loved one. Holmes and Rahe assigned a numerical value to each of these events based on the intensity of the stress. The death of a spouse, for example, was rated the most stressful, at 100, whereas a minor violation of the law was assigned a value of 11.

What Stress in Men Looks Like

Broadly speaking, stress can be experienced in two ways, physically and psychologically, but the two are interrelated. For example, chronic stress leads to decreased immune function, increased risk of infection, and decreased ability to fight infection or repair tissue, according to research by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser.

Physical Symptoms

Remember that stress is an individual experience and that symptoms are too. Signs of disease should not be ignored just because you believe they are stress-related. Get serious symptoms checked by your doctor.

  • Chest pain
  • Pounding heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Diminished or increased sex drive
  • Muscle aches, such as back and neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Clenched jaws and grinding teeth
  • Tightness, dryness or a feeling of a having lump in your throat
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Increased perspiration
  • Stomach cramps
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Skin problems

Psychological Symptoms

If these effects of stress are interfering with your daily life, consult your doctor for advice on how to find relief. Stress management is essential to well-being and something we should practice every day.

  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Crying
  • Withdrawal or isolation
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Worry
  • Restless anxiety
  • Irritability, anger or decreased anger control
  • Overeating or anorexia
  • Feelings of insecurity
  • Decreased productivity
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Changes in close relationships
  • Increased smoking
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
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