If you are a man who has begun to experience escalating tension combined with a diminishing sense of wellbeing and reduced optimism, these may be the precursors to an unhappy but avoidable condition known as Irritable Male Syndrome, (IMS).
As we age, men sometimes feel that mounting pressures from career, marriage, kids, and interests can accumulate and threaten the quality of life those things are meant to provide. This loss of meaning feels like a trap and can weigh heavily on middle-aged guys and produce immense anxiety and conflict in even our best relationships.
So in this article, we take a look at IMS and what can be done about it. If you have experienced irritability or mood swings, keep reading.
RELATED: Can Dads Get Postpartum Depression?
What Is Irritable Male Syndrome?
Irritable Male Syndrome is an ongoing mental state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger in men thought to stem from changes in biochemistry and hormones that relate to a loss of masculine identity. The name is borrowed from a similar condition that occurs in animals reaching the end of their breeding time – a primary example of loss of male identity.
In humans, the primary symptoms of Irritable Male Syndrome are:
Hypersensitivity is the tendency to focus on problems and to react to them in a disproportionate manner. The person being hypersensitive never thinks they’re hypersensitive; instead, they think that pressures are mounting, and annoyance and frustration are natural responses.
To the man with IMS, it feels like people are bothering you. It seems as if nothing has changed in you, but the world is getting more and more annoying, ineffective, two-faced, incompetent, needy, disorganized, dishonest, … etc. etc. etc.
For the partner of the man with IMS, you might find yourself feeling like you walk on eggshells. You may notice that small, unexpected things “set him off”. You may struggle often to find something to cheer him up only to be pushed away again and again. It can be very much like unknowingly giving a bear hug to someone with a sunburn. You’re trying to be loving but it causes your partner pain or frustration.
People experience anxiety as apprehension or fear stemming from perceived danger or pitfall (whether real or imagined). As hunting animals, we still have instincts – instincts that have the capacity to exaggerate. For example, not getting the corner office isn’t really a threat to your life. But among modern men, career has replaced hunting and our animal instincts may be overactive in sizing up threats to our wellbeing.
If you find yourself inventorying an exhausting (and frightening) list of “WHAT IF” scenarios in your head, that is anxiety. What if my partner leaves me? What if my employer replaces me? What if I lost my hair? What if – what if – what if ?!
Psychologists define frustration as the feeling you get when you believe you have been blocked or undermined from achieving something important to you. For men suffering IMS, many things become frustrating as perceptions of failure and negativity seem to be all around.
This feeling of inability to get what you want or achieve what you wish can be intensified by anxiety and uncertainty about the first step toward a goal. With societal and cultural pressure for men to be in control and great protectors, shortfalls in this area can be mentally excruciating for men.
Anger – that feeling of extreme displeasure or hostility – is complex and intricate. Turned outward, anger can lead to violence and aggression. Turned inward, it can lead to depression and thoughts of self-harm.
For some men, anger becomes their primary method of expression and their primary defense against perceived threats to wellbeing. Since so many men rely on anger as their go-to emotion, it is often the first symptom spotted in diagnosing IMS.
All of these feelings – hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger – are usually passing emotions that come and go. But when these feelings become almost ever-present, they can turn into a long-lasting mood that is difficult to escape. That condition is known as IMS, Irritable Male Syndrome.
How To Avoid Irritable Male Syndrome
For treatment of IMS, speak with a doctor since these symptoms can be signs of multiple various causes. Your doctor can help test the conditions that lead to IMS and can recommend treatments based on that diagnosis.
Hormonal fluctuations are one cause of IMS so your doctor may test your levels of testosterone and other hormones.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes associated with IMS. Serotonin is vital to brain function and communication so a reduction in available levels could easily trigger the emotions and conditions of IMS.
Finally, you must “manage your mind” by being purposeful about what you focus on. What you focus on increases so remove sources of stress and be deliberate about how you conceptualize your own goals and successes.
There is a lot to think about – we understand. If you have questions about Irritable Male Syndrome or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventive medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
For questions, inquiries, or appointments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians available 24/7.