How to cheer up a grumpy old man

Is your part­ner suf­fer­ing from grumpy old man syn­drome? Get to the bot­tom of his grumpi­ness with our ex­pert guide

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By Re­becca Speech­ley

Men are no­to­ri­ously bad at com­mu­ni­cat­ing how they’re feel­ing and are very prone to bot­tling things up and shut­ting us out when they’re a bit down. It’s easy to shrug off their grumpi­ness as just an­other mood, but some­times there might be more go­ing on be­hind the scenes than you might think. “From a young age, boys are taught to be ‘brave’,” says Dr Mark Win­wood, di­rec­tor of psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices at AXA PPP health­care. “Men have al­ways played the role of pro­tec­tors and show­ing emo­tion is often con­sid­ered a sign of weak­ness. This can lead to men hid­ing their emo­tions which can trig­ger neg­a­tive thoughts, dis­tress and anx­i­ety and make things worse.” Nag­ging at him for be­ing grumpy won’t help but if he doesn’t seem him­self, look out for some signs to help you un­der­stand what’s re­ally go­ing on, so you can help him man­age his moods.

IS HE ANX­IOUS?

“Anx­i­ety doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have a trig­ger or a fo­cus. It’s a fear of a fu­ture event which may or may not hap­pen,” says Dr Win­wood. “If you’re anx­ious you may have un­re­al­is­tic, un­con­trol­lable and in­tru­sive thoughts that some­thing un­to­ward might hap­pen.” When he’s feel­ing anx­ious your part­ner might be ir­ri­ta­ble, rest­less, he may strug­gle to sleep or want to sleep a lot. Phys­i­cally he might be­come short of breath, sweaty or dizzy.

IS HE STRESSED?

“Stress and anx­i­ety are often talked about in­ter­change­ably, but they are dif­fer­ent,” says Dr Win­wood. “Stress has a trig­ger and mak­ing a change to re­move it can take away the stress. For ex­am­ple, if an im­por­tant event is com­ing up, you might be­gin to feel stressed about it. But once that event is over, the stress also goes away.” If he’s stressed your part­ner might be grumpy or ir­ri­ta­ble, he may get an­gry eas­ily and have a short tem­per. He may have prob­lems with di­ges­tion, strug­gle to sleep or suf­fer from headaches and fa­tigue.

IS HE DE­PRESSED?

De­pres­sion af­fects one in five men over the age of 65. But, sadly, the stigma sur­round­ing men’s men­tal health pre­vents many of them from

seek­ing help. “While women tend to ex­press their emo­tional pain through symptoms as­so­ci­ated with anx­i­ety, like be­com­ing up­set or pan­icky, men are more likely to ‘act out’ re­pressed feel­ings, be­com­ing ir­ri­ta­ble and an­gry,” says Dr Win­wood. “This is partly driven by an in­abil­ity to open up about their feel­ings, for fear their mas­culin­ity will be ques­tioned.” When a man is strug­gling with de­pres­sion, he may be­come an­gry, ir­ri­ta­ble and ag­gres­sive. Or he could be to­tally flat and strug­gle to show or feel pos­i­tive emo­tions. He might lose his ap­petite, lack en­ergy and ei­ther strug­gle to sleep or sleep too much. He might adopt un­healthy habits, such as turn­ing to al­co­hol or smok­ing. And he could ex­pe­ri­ence headaches, di­ges­tive is­sues and dis­com­fort.

IS HE HORMONAL?

Men can be at the mercy of their hor­mones too. “As men age, they ex­pe­ri­ence a change in hor­mone pro­duc­tion and a pro­gres­sive re­duc­tion in testos­terone,” says Dr Win­wood. “This can have an im­pact on their mood, phys­i­cal health and sex drive – symptoms of a process re­cently coined the ‘Manopause’. “Th­ese bod­ily changes usu­ally hap­pen be­tween the ages of 40 and 55, but can last un­til men are in their 60s. They tend to be ac­com­pa­nied by changes in at­ti­tudes and mood, too. A healthy diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise could help to bal­ance out his hor­mones, so try adopt­ing some healthy habits to­gether. While your part­ner may ex­pe­ri­ence one, or all, of the prob­lems, ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent. He may con­ceal cer­tain be­hav­iours or feel­ings, or not even re­alise he’s act­ing out of char­ac­ter. Thank­fully there are lots of simple ways you can help, per­haps with­out him even re­al­is­ing it.

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