The experience of benzodiazepine withdrawal /BIND can be a challenging journey, with physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that can be painful, confusing, and frightening. While both men and women share many aspects of withdrawal, there are certain factors that make the process unique for each gender. In this blog post, I will share the differences in how men experience benzodiazepine withdrawal, focusing on hormonal differences, cultural factors, and societal expectations. I will also offer suggestions for coping strategies men can employ during this challenging time.
To begin with, men may have a different reaction to a benzodiazepine. In a 2014 study, it was found that gonadal hormones and trait anxiety might affect sensitivity to the anxiety-reducing effects of diazepam. These differences may be partly due to the distribution of GABA-containing interneurons. From the start, the benzodiazepine experience may be different for men. Let’s take a look at the withdrawal/BIND experience for them.
One of the primary differences in how men and women experience benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND is rooted in their hormonal makeup. Men have high-testosterone levels, which can influence how they experience and respond to withdrawal symptoms. Testosterone has been linked to increased aggression and irritability, which can exacerbate the emotional symptoms of withdrawal. Additionally, testosterone may interact with certain receptors in the brain, potentially altering the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms in men.
Conversely, women have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can also influence the withdrawal experience. These hormones modulate anxiety and mood, which may result in a different emotional landscape during withdrawal for women compared to men.
Cultural factors play a significant role in how men experience benzodiazepine withdrawal. In many societies, men are expected to be stoic and unemotional, often discouraging them from seeking support or openly discussing their feelings. This pressure to maintain a façade of strength can hinder men from accessing valuable resources and support networks during withdrawals.
Furthermore, men may be less likely to seek professional help for their withdrawal symptoms due to the stigma associated with mental health issues in many cultures. This reluctance to seek help can lead to a more challenging withdrawal process, with men potentially enduring greater suffering in silence.
Societal expectations of gender roles and behaviors also influence the experience of benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND for men. Men often face pressure to maintain their roles as providers, protectors, and leaders, making it difficult for them to take the necessary time off work or attend to their emotional needs during withdrawal. As a result, men may try to push through the withdrawal process at the expense of their mental and physical health.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND may impact mothers’ and fathers’ parenting ability. For men, the impact may undermine their feelings of being responsible for the overall well-being f the “tribe.” Benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND symptoms can cause emotional and physical challenges that can hinder their ability to engage with and care for their children effectively. Withdrawal symptoms such as increased irritability, anxiety, and mood swings may strain the father-child relationship and make it difficult for men to provide emotional support. Furthermore, physical symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, and muscle pain may limit their capacity to participate in activities with their children or fulfill daily parenting responsibilities.
Coping Strategies for Men
Despite the unique challenges that men may face during benzodiazepine withdrawal, several coping strategies cancan help make the experience more manageable:
- Please seek professional help: While it can be challenging to overcome the stigma associated with mental health treatment, seeking professional help from a benzo-wise doctor, therapist, or benzodiazepine coach, can be a crucial step in managing withdrawal symptoms. Benzo-wise medical professionals can offer guidance on tapering schedules and coping with symptoms and provide emotional support throughout the process.
- Build a support network: Finding a support network of friends, family, or peers who have experienced benzodiazepine withdrawal can be invaluable in navigating the challenges of withdrawal. Sharing experiences and feelings with others can help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide encouragement during difficult moments. (I have men in my Heal With Dr. Jenn support group who offer support to one another.)
- Prioritize self-care: It is essential for men to prioritize their physical and emotional well-being during withdrawal. This can include eating well, gentle exercising, and engaging in relaxing activities such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. By prioritizing self-care, men can better manage their withdrawal symptoms and support their overall mental health.
- Challenge societal expectations: Men should feel empowered to challenge societal expectations that hinder their ability to cope with withdrawal. This might involve openly discussing their feelings with loved ones, seeking help when needed, and taking the necessary time to focus on their well-being. By challenging these expectations, men can create an environment that supports their recovery and promotes a healthier withdrawal/BIND experience.
- Educate yourself: Understanding the withdrawal process and its symptoms can be empowering and help reduce anxiety. Men should take the time to educate themselves about benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND, including the timeline, potential symptoms, and coping strategies. Knowledge is power, and being well-informed can help men navigate benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND with greater confidence and resilience.
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms after recovery: Replacing benzodiazepines with healthy coping mechanisms can be an essential part of the recovery. Men should explore new ways of managing stress, such as physical activity, mindfulness practices, or engaging in hobbies and activities that can help them distract. Learning something new is a wonderful way to cope during withdrawal/BIND. (The four cornerstones of well-being are an excellent way to rewire the nervous system for health and happiness.)
- Practice patience and self-compassion: Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be a long and challenging process. It is crucial for men to practice patience with themselves and recognize that healing takes time. Self-compassion involves acknowledging one’s own struggles and treating oneself with kindness and understanding during difficult moments.
The experience of benzodiazepine withdrawal is unique for each individual, and men face particular challenges due to hormonal differences, cultural factors, and societal expectations. By understanding these differences and employing coping strategies tailored to their unique needs, men can successfully navigate the withdrawal process and work towards a healthier future. It is important to remember that support and resources are available to help men overcome the challenges of benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND and that recovery is the ultimate outcome of the benzodiazepine journey.
Please join in the conversation. Leave a comment and share your thoughts and experiences of how men navigate benzodiazepine withdrawal/BIND. What are your suggestions? Thank you for participating.