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Are You More Irritable and Angry: It Could Be Low Testosterone

Are You More Irritable and Angry: It Could Be Low Testosterone

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Published by Jed Diamond
After seeing many men and women suffering from these problems, I began to research the issue and developed the concept of irritable male syndrome. I learned about studies conducted in Edinburgh, Scotland by Gerald A. Lincoln. Lincoln found that in the animals he studied, including Soay rams and reindeer, when their testosterone was lowered they became more irritable. He concluded that low-T irritability was present in all male mammals and wondered whether that might include humans. My own research indicated that it did.
After seeing many men and women suffering from these problems, I began to research the issue and developed the concept of irritable male syndrome. I learned about studies conducted in Edinburgh, Scotland by Gerald A. Lincoln. Lincoln found that in the animals he studied, including Soay rams and reindeer, when their testosterone was lowered they became more irritable. He concluded that low-T irritability was present in all male mammals and wondered whether that might include humans. My own research indicated that it did.

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Published by: Jed Diamond on Aug 05, 2013
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HAROLDO FERRARY-HAROLDO FERRARI-HAROLDO COSTA FERR, CreativeCommons

Are You More Irritable and Angry? It Could Be Low Testosterone
Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a health-care professional for more than 40 years. He is the author of 10 books, including MenAlive: Stop Killer Stress with Simple Energy Healing Tools, Surviving Male Menopause, and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome. I offer counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To receive a Free E-book on Men’s Health and a free subscription to my e-newsletter go to www.MenAlive.com. If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe. I write to everyone who joins my tribe of followers.

For more than 40 years, I have been helping men, and the women who love them, to live well. Over the years I have become increasingly aware of how irritable and angry many men have become. Here is how 45-year-old Paul described things to me. “I believe I have turned into my father's child,” Paul says sadly. “I have noticed that my relationship with my wife has deteriorated significantly. Where we used to share affection openly and often, I find I am more and more hypersensitive, irritable and angry. I bite her head off at the least little thing and I don’t even know why I’m doing it. “As far as relationships with others - here's a quick example - my drafting professor in college nicknamed me ‘Mr. Grumpy’, and that name has stuck with me. My reputation often precedes itself. I often come across as cheery and helpful, but it’s as though a dark cloud comes over me and something will set me off. “Although I hate to admit it, my work life has suffered because of my irritability. The last company that I contracted my services to merged with a larger firm and I was told I would have a new position. However, when it got time for the changeover I was told the position was no longer available. I chatted casually with several people and got the impression that it was not my work that was the issue, it was the fact that my shortness with co-workers, and my irritability on the job had labeled me as ‘someone difficult to work with.’” I often hear from women who are concerned about the man in their life. A 57-year-old woman named Joyce came to me because the relationship with her husband had deteriorated. “Last January a man came home from work with my husband’s face but he did not act at all like him. I've known this man for 30 years, married 22 of them and have never met THIS guy before. Mean, nasty, and cruel are just a few words to describe him. He used to be the most upbeat guy I’d ever met. Lately he acts more like an angry BRICK.”

Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) and Low Testosterone After seeing many men and women suffering from these problems, I began to research the issue and developed the concept of irritable male syndrome. I learned about studies conducted in Edinburgh, Scotland by Gerald A. Lincoln. Lincoln found that in the animals he studied, including Soay rams and reindeer, when their testosterone was lowered they became more irritable. Lincoln postulated an “irritable male syndrome” that was present in all male mammals when testosterone levels fall. I went to visit Lincoln at his research facility outside of Edinburgh. He wondered whether the observed behavior in animals might be true for men as well. I told him that my research with human male mammals convinced me that he was right about the relationship between irritability and loss of testosterone. I saw this occurring in older men who were experiencing testosterone loss due to aging and loss of male power as well as in younger men who felt powerless and were under a great deal of stress. He gave me permission to title my book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression. Common Symptoms of Irritable Male Syndrome Working with males (and those who live with them) that are experiencing IMS I have found there are four core symptoms that underlie many others. 1. Hypersensitivity. The women who live these men say things like:    I feel like I have to walk on egg-shells when I’m around him. I never know when I’m going to say something that will set him off. He’s like time bomb ready to explode but I never know when.

The men don’t often recognize their own hypersensitivity. Rather their perception is that they are fine but everyone else is going out of their way to irritate them. The guys say things like: • Quit bothering me. • You know I don’t like that. Why do you keep doing it? • Leave me alone. 2. Anxiety Anxiety is a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation. These kind of worries usually take the

form of “what ifs.” What if I lose my job? What if I can’t find a job? What if she leaves me? What if I can’t find someone to love me? 3. Frustration Princeton University’s WordNet offers two definitions that can help us understand this aspect of IMS. (1) the feeling that accompanies an experience of being thwarted in attaining your goals. Synonym is defeat. (2) a feeling of annoyance at being hindered or criticized.

4. Anger Anger can be simply defined as a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Yet anger is a complex emotion. Outwardly expressed it can lead to aggression and violence. When it is turned inward it can lead to depression and suicide. Anger can be direct and obvious or it can be subtle and covert. Anger can be loud or quiet. It can be expressed as hateful words, hurtful actions, or in stony silence. For many men, anger is the only emotion they have learned to express. Growing up male we are taught to avoid anything that is seen as the least bit feminine. We are taught that men “do” while women “feel.” As a result men are taught to keep all emotions under wrap. We cannot show we are hurt, afraid, worried, or panicked. The only feeling that is sometimes allowed many men is anger. When men begin going through IMS, it is often anger that is the primary emotion. Irritable Male Syndrome Can Undermine Our Health and Wreck Our Relationships Whereas feelings like anger, anxiety, and frustration can occur quickly and end quickly, irritability can develop into a mood state that can last over a long period of time and can trigger these feelings over and over again. It can have a major impact on our whole lives. “When we’re in a mood it biases and restricts how we think,” says Paul Ekman, who is professor of psychology and director of the Human Interaction Laboratory at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. Dr. Ekman is one of the world’s experts on emotional expression. In describing these kinds of negative moods, Ekman continues. “They make us vulnerable in ways that we are normally not. So the negative moods create a lot of problems for us, because they change how we think. If I wake up in an irritable mood, I’m looking for a chance to be angry. Things that ordinarily would not frustrate me, do. The danger of a mood is not only that it biases thinking but that it increases emotions. When I’m in an irritable mood, my anger comes stronger and faster, lasts longer, and is harder to control than usual. It’s a terrible state…one I would be glad never to have.”

Irritable Male Syndrome goes on inside a particular man, but it can impact his spouse, family, friends, and colleagues. If you or someone you love may be impacted, take the quiz and find out if IMS is causing problems in your life.

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