Anxiety disorders are ranked as the sixth largest contributor to life-long health concerns worldwide with an estimated 3.6% (264 million) of the global population living with anxiety.
It affects nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S 1, and in South Africa, the South African Stress and Health (SASH) study, which investigated the lifetime prevalence of common mental disorders, anxiety disorders were found to be the most prevalent class of lifetime mental disorders at 15.8% 2.
On average, one in eight men will have depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives3.
And even though statistic points towards women being twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, the reason might be more social than scientific.
Dr Ian Westmore, member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) says the stigma associated with anxiety disorders considers the condition as ‘unmanly’ and a sign of weakness. He says that “this is the very reason men are less likely to talk about their anxiety, and instead drown their anxiety with poor coping behaviours, increasing their risk of the anxiety or depression to go unrecognised and untreated.”
Dr Westmore says men are far less likely to seek support, as is more common with women who more eagerly speak-out and seek help, due to the ‘macho male stereotype’ in society expecting men to ‘man up’ and adopt the ‘boys don’t cry’ mentality.
“It’s this attitude of men portrayed as being brave and fearless that leads to men considering themselves in a negative light