According to new Bupa research, the UK’s anxiety levels have surged over the last few years – with men struggling with anxiety more than ever.
Bupa’s research found that anxiety symptoms in men saw a 13x search increase while anxiety symptoms in women saw a 6x search increase. This is based on an internal UK Google search analysis from August 2020–August 2022.
Given the amount of uncertainty we’ve been dealing with in recent times, it’s not surprising that more of us are feeling anxious. Search volumes for mental health support have increased across the board, however, the steep search increases for ‘anxiety symptoms in men’ could suggest that men are becoming more open to the idea of seeking information and support.
Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical lead for mental health at Bupa Insurance, explained: “Historically, anxiety has been seen as a condition that affects women more. Although women’s anxiety search volumes are still greater than men’s, ’anxiety symptoms in men’ has seen huge increases in the last two years.
“Our research highlights the nation’s growing curiosity to discover more about our feelings. It’s promising that these search increases are mirrored across both genders. It perhaps suggests more people are taking their mental health seriously and wanting to take the first steps towards getting and staying well.
“Our claims data reflects this, with claims for mental health issues increasing by 40% between 2019 and 2021, driven by strong demand for treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy.
“Whatever your gender, accepting that you’re struggling is the first step towards managing anxiety. Mental health conditions can be debilitating if people don’t get early and direct access to the right care and treatment, and it has been proven that early diagnosis leads to better outcomes.
“Remember that it’s always OK to ask for support. The right techniques and assistance can help prevent future damage to mental and physical health.”
Anxiety can be a normal feeling but knowing how to address and overcome it – before it becomes debilitating – is important to keep you healthy and well. Dr Pablo Vandenabeele gave three tips to manage anxiety. Follow these three principles to improve your well-being in 2023:
Step away from unhealthy coping mechanisms
Though turning to stodgy foods or alcohol might seem the most tempting way to calm anxiety, it won’t help you in the long term. Instead, make the following non-negotiable to take care of your general health:
- Get outside for a 15-minute walk every day.
- Lay off caffeine – this means minimising your intake of tea, coffee, chocolate and energy drinks.
- Make sure you’re getting your five-a-day and drinking plenty of water.
- Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Secure your self-help methods
Knowing which self-help techniques work for you can help reduce anxious thoughts and make you feel less overwhelmed. Try the following and notice if they help you to feel calmer:
- Meditation, mindfulness and worry trees
- Reading credible self-help books (try Reading Well to find titles to manage your health and well-being).
- Don’t bottle up how you’re feeling. Sharing with someone you trust – a friend, family or a health professional – can help you feel understood.
- Find free anxiety help – Bupa’s Mental Health Hub, Samaritans, and Mind are all full of resources to process your feelings.
If you need extra help, seek it early
Sometimes, even after taking care of yourself and using self-help methods, you might find anxiety is still causing you distress or making daily life more difficult. If you’re feeling this way, it’s time to speak to a health professional for advice. Depending on your symptoms, talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be useful – and your health insurer or GP may be able to refer you.
If you’re struggling, the sooner you speak to a health professional, the better your treatment outcome is likely to be. If you have health insurance with direct access, you can speak to a mental health specialist straight away without needing a referral from your GP.
Mental health issues can become harder to treat, the longer you have them, so don’t delay seeking support.