PTSD Related Conditions Male Gender Role Stress and PTSD Stress about fitting into the masculine norm can make symptoms worse By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD Twitter Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 28, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Hero Images/Hero Images/Getty Images The term "male gender role stress" refers to the experience of emotional distress as a result of violating or not adhering to traditional masculine gender role norms. Traditional masculine gender roles play a part in the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some men. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Understanding Masculine Gender Roles Each society has its own rules about what's considered appropriate behavior for men and women. In Western societies, men have traditionally been expected to be self-reliant, not emotional (except with regard to the expression of anger), confident and strong. This is the traditional masculine gender role. Men differ in the extent to which they follow these rules. However, some of these rules go against basic and normal human responses to stress. So it's not surprising that a number of studies have shown that men who try to strictly adhere to these rules and who fear violating these rules may be at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes including PTSD. Press Play for Advice on Undefining Masculinity Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares the value of undefining what it means to be a man, featuring author and actor Justin Baldoni. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Problems Linked to Male Gender Role Stress Men experiencing male gender role stress are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, problems controlling aggressive behavior and alcohol abuse. For example, men who fear violating male gender role norms may be less likely to talk about or express their emotions, especially with regard to emotions that could make them appear vulnerable, such as sadness or anxiety. Male gender role stress may also prevent certain men from seeking out social support or using other healthy coping skills. Male Gender Role Stress and PTSD High male gender role stress may even contribute to PTSD. A couple of studies have found that male gender role stress is related to the experience of more severe PTSD symptoms. Here's how: It's thought that male gender role stress may prevent men from seeking out the help they need following the experience of a traumatic event, increasing the likelihood of developing PTSD. In addition, the use of alcohol or other unhealthy coping strategies (such as emotional avoidance) among men experiencing male gender stress following a traumatic event may prevent them from adequately processing emotions associated with the event. Getting Help If you are a man who has experienced a traumatic event, it's important to know that emotions such as anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt or anger are common emotions that occur after a traumatic event. They are not a sign of weakness or a reason to feel shame because you're not following the traditional masculine gender role. It can take tremendous courage and strength to experience, express and seek out help for the intense negative emotions that can stem from a traumatic event. When seeking out help for the experience of a traumatic event, it's important to be a consumer. If you notice that you experience high levels of male gender role stress, you may want to seek out a therapist to whom you feel comfortable expressing your emotions. Knowing What to Ask Your Therapist Can Help Reduce Anxiety Finding a mental health provider can be an overwhelming and stressful task if you do not know where to look. Fortunately, there are several websites that provide free search engines that can help you find mental health providers in your area who treat PTSD. Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. 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Implications of masculine gender role stress in male veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 7, 203-211. McCreary, D.R., Wong, F.Y., Weiner, W., Carpenter, K.M., Engle, A., & Nelson, P. (1996). The relationship between masculine gender role stress and psychological adjustment: A question of construct validity? Sex Roles, 34, 507-516. McDermott, M.J., Tull, M.T., Soenke, M., Jakupcak, M., & Gratz, K.L. (2010). Masculine gender role stress and posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity among inpatient male crack/cocaine users. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 11, 225-232. Moore, T.M., Stuart, G.L., McNulty, J.K., Addis, M.E., Cordova, J.V., & Temple, J.R. (2008). Domains of masculine gender role stress and intimate partner violence in a clinical sample of violent men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 9, 82-89. By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for PTSD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.