Panic Disorders in Men

Men and women experience substance abuse and mental health conditions differently, which is why many men’s treatment centers are opening around the country. Men’s treatment centers can provide specialized care for experiences that are unique to men and boys. Here’s what you need to know about how panic disorders affect men differently than women.

What Is a Panic Disorder?

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a panic disorder occurs when a person suffers from repeated panic attacks and a persistent fear of having another panic attack. Panic attacks are periods of intense fear, anxiety and discomfort that last for a few minutes or several minutes — though it may feel like the panic attack lasts for hours. Symptoms of panic attacks include:

  • A choking sensation
  • Abdominal pain or nausea
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chills or feelings of heat in the body
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of “going crazy” or losing control
  • Feeling as though one’s surroundings or experiences are unreal
  • Feeling detached from oneself
  • Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Shortness of breath or the feeling of being smothered
  • Sweating
  • Tingling sensations or feelings of numbness

How Do Panic Disorders Affect Men?

On average, panic disorder starts around the age of 23 for men, though panic attacks usually begin around age 20. Panic disorder and panic attacks are most common for men between the ages of 25 and 34, although the disorders can occur at any time throughout life. Research has shown that men are more likely than women to experience specific symptoms of panic disorder such as stomach pain, a fear of “acting crazy” or losing control, sweating, chest pain and dry mouth. Men are also slightly more likely than women to experience symptoms such as feeling as though things are unreal, tingling or numbness in the feet and feeling as though time is slowing down. However, everyone experiences panic disorder differently and it is not abnormal to experience any combination of the other symptoms of panic disorder. If you believe you are suffering from a panic disorder, contact a men’s treatment center or your doctor right away. There is help available through therapy, medication or a combination of both. Sources: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms. Sheikh, J. I., Leskin, G. A. & Klein, D. F. (2002). Gender differences in panic disorder: Findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(1), 55-58.

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