The Difference Between Fear And Anxiety
Fear and anxiety often occur together, but these terms are not interchangeable. Even though symptoms commonly overlap, a person’s experience with these emotions differs based on their context. Fear relates to a known or understood threat, whereas anxiety follows from an unknown, expected, or poorly defined threat.
Fear and anxiety both produce a similar stress response. But many experts believe that there are important differences between the two. These differences can account for how we react to various stressors in our environment.
Muscle tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath mark the most significant physiological symptoms associated with a response to danger. These bodily changes result from an inborn fight-or-flight stress response thought to be necessary for our survival.
Without this stress response, our mind wouldn’t receive the alerting danger signal and our bodies would be unable to prepare to flee or stay and battle when faced with danger.
What Is The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety
Posted on Tuesday, 06 March 2018, in
The words stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably. In this blog we look at the main differences and why main reason it is vital to know whether you are stressed or have an anxiety disorder.
Both stress and anxiety share some common symptoms and it is very natural to experience these at times. That gnawing sensation in your stomach, sweaty palms and restless energy are symptoms that are experienced with both stress and anxiety. Some of these are caused as a side effect of the adrenaline that is released when we are faced with a threat either perceived or real. Whilst there are some similarities between stress and anxiety, there are also some key differences.
Whats The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety
Knowing the difference can ensure you get the help you need.
Whats the difference between stress and anxiety?
Theres a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both are emotional responses, but stress is typically caused by an external trigger. The trigger can be short-term, such as a work deadline or a fight with a loved one or long-term, such as being unable to work, discrimination, or chronic illness. People under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that dont go away even in the absence of a stressor. Anxiety leads to a nearly identical set of symptoms as stress: insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension, and irritability.
Both mild stress and mild anxiety respond well to similar coping mechanisms. Physical activity, a nutritious and varied diet, and good sleep hygiene are a good starting point, but there are other .
Anxiety disorders are common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of Americans over the age of 18 had an anxiety disorder in the past year, and 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.
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When To Seek Help
If youre having thoughts about harming yourself or others, you should seek immediate medical help. Stress and anxiety are treatable conditions and there are many resources, strategies, and treatments that can help. If youre unable to control your worries, and stress is impacting your daily life, talk to your primary care provider about ways to manage stress and anxiety.
An Anxiety Disorder Can Be Characterized By Which Of The Following
Although anxiety is a normal human emotion, people who experience extreme fear and worry that donât go away may have an anxiety disorder. Each anxiety disorder has its own specific symptoms. For example, panic disorders cause sudden, uncontrollable feelings of terror, and social anxiety disorder involves the fear of being in unfamiliar social situations with expectations of scrutiny by others. Both can also manifest with physical symptoms such as shaking or breaking out in a sweat.
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Are Stress And Anxiety The Same Whats The Difference
We often use stress and anxiety interchangeably, to describe intense worry or emotional distress. But in reality, there are distinct differences between the twofor example, one is considered a healthy emotion that can be beneficial, while the other is considered an unhealthy emotion that is all-around harmful. Lets explore these vital differences and make sure youre managing the stress and/or anxiety in your life:
Three Things To Help Your Worries:
Give yourself a worry budget, an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up , consciously redirect your thoughts.
When you notice that youre worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action.
Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts.
Remember: Worry is helpful only if it leads to change, not if it turns into obsessive thoughts.
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Recently Several People Have Shared With Me That They Feel They Arent Getting The Same Enjoyment Out Of Things As They Used To Every Day Feels The Same Even Talking To Friends Has Felt Boring Because Nothing New Is Happening The Pandemic
Recently, several people have shared with me that they feel they arent getting the same enjoyment out of things as they used to. Every day feels the same even talking to friends has felt boring because nothing new is happening. The pandemic-fueled isolation that once felt like strong anxiety and stress is now growing into a sense of sadness and depression.
Sadness and depression can make us feel weighed down .
We might feel like we have to move mountains to do basic chores, doing things we typically enjoyed may no longer give us the same satisfaction, and sleep and appetite can suffer too.
I wanted to share one skill I often recommend to those feeling stuck in challenging emotions. Its a method that can be done in small steps with the goal of getting you to a better-feeling place.
Its called Opposite Action.
Opposite action means that you engage in doing the exact opposite of what your mood is telling you to do. If depression is telling you: Stay inside! Its too much effort to go out for a walk or see anyone safely or sadness is telling you: Why shower? You arent going out anyway, so who cares? and you listen to them, the more sad and depressed you will feel overall.
It often feels easiest to listen to these thoughts, and we convince ourselves that were just avoiding stress and anxiety. But the more you listen to that sad and depressed voice, the more that negative mood grows.
The Difference Between Anxiety And Excitement
Tim JP Collins, the host of The Anxiety Podcast, says via email that Physiologically anxiety and excitement are very similar. The difference is in our interpretation. If we were stepping onto a sports field for the game of our lives and the crowd was roaring and music playing, that feeling would be invaluable. Enhanced vision, hearing, extra adrenaline for increased performance. It’s exactly what you need at that moment. Listen to the sports star being interviewed after his debut game: ‘So were you nervous? No, I was just super excited, couldn’t wait to get out there and help my team.'”
In my opinion, anxiety is a negative experience and excitement is a positive experience. The difference is all in how you use it. Unfortunately, its much easier said than done. When I have a panic attack, it is impossible to think rationally.
To turn things around, its important to have tools available at your disposal.
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The Anxiety Disorder Spectrum
Anxiety in itself is not bad. Normal levels of anxiety lie on one end of a spectrum and may present as low levels of fear or apprehension, mild sensations of muscle tightness and sweating, or doubts about your ability to complete a task. Importantly, symptoms of normal anxiety do not negatively interfere with daily functioning. They may actually improve your attention and problem-solving, motivate you to work harder toward a goal, or warn you about a potential threat. For example, anxiety about an upcoming exam will likely drive you to prepare fully, and the anxiety a hiker might experience when encountering a bear allows the hiker to run away to safety. These examples demonstrate how normal levels of anxiety can be adaptive and helpful to your everyday life.
Clinical levels of anxiety fall toward the other end of the spectrum. Diagnosable anxiety disorders occur when anxiety levels rise enough to rapidly decrease performance and cause impairment.
How would you know if you have crossed over into the zone of a full-blown anxiety disorder? Anxiety disorders are characterized by severe, persistent worry that is excessive for the situation, and extreme avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations. These symptoms cause distress, impair daily functioning, and occur for a significant period. For instance, a person who needs to stay home from work several days in a row due to panic attacks is likely suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Panic Attacks Are A Sign Of Anxiety Not Stress
Like “anxiety,” the term “panic attack” gets thrown around in our culture, to the point where many of us might think that a panic attack is simply the state of feeling very panicked. However, a panic attack is actually a very specific experience of heightened fear of discomfort that, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, often involves sweating, trembling, pounding heartbeat, nausea, chest pain, the sensation of choking, chills, and numbness in the hands or face. The National Institute of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “a panic attack begins suddenly, and most often peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. Some symptoms continue for an hour or more,” and many people go to the emergency room during their first panic attack, because they are convinced that they are having a heart attack or some other deadly health problem â so, yes, it’s a very different experience from just feeling a little panicked about getting your work done on time.
Why This Difference Is Important: If you’ve experienced a panic attack, that’s a sign of anxiety â and a sign that you could benefit from professional help.
No matter which issue you’re struggling with, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through, and know that no matter what you have, you can start feeling better.
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Worry Is A Component Of Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety has three main components: emotional, physiological, and cognitive.
Imagine you have a presentation coming up at work. You might notice feelings of fear and dread, two examples of the emotional component. You may also notice bodily sensations, such as heart palpitations, sweating, or a tightness in your stomach, which represent the physiological component. Finally, you might be thinking, I cant do it, or Im going to embarrass myself. Worries and negative thoughts like these about what might happen in the future are the cognitive component. So, while worry is an important part of anxiety, it is only one of the three main building blocks.
Anxiety Involves Needless Worry
A lot of the symptoms of stress mimic those of anxiety â from trouble sleeping and stomach issues to irritability and inability to focus, they can look awfully similar. However, there is one telltale symptom that signals anxiety and only anxiety: a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” So while “I am worried that if I can’t find a new job soon, I won’t be able to pay rent this month” could be a stress-related thought, “I am worried that my boss secretly hates me and wants to fire me, and when she inevitably does that, I won’t be able to pay rent” is definitely an anxious thought.
Why This Difference Is Important: Knowing that you’re dealing with anxiety is important when it comes to getting the proper treatment the kind of counseling given to someone coping with a great deal of stress will be quite different than the course of treatment from a person suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
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Are Anxiety And Excitement The Same
by Patient Advocate
As I was pacing around the narrow hallway, I felt my heart beating rapidly and the muscles in my chest tensing up. I was minutes away from walking into the room, stepping on stage, and giving a keynote speech to hundreds of people. Although I deliver presentations to big audiences on a regular basis, it felt like I was doing for the very first time.
To help me relax, I sat down in a nearby chair. I then focused my attention on my thoughts and feelings, hoping this would reduce my anxiety. After a few moments, I began to wonder if I was experiencing anxiety. Or was this excitement disguised as fear? Maybe I was excited to go on stage and deliver my presentation.
Since that day, I have been curious to know whether anxiety and excitement are the same?
The more that I reflect on it, I dont believe that they are completely the same. However, it seems like the symptoms of both are strikingly similar. Knowing this can provide you with a heightened awareness and new tools to redirect your anxiety into something positive. This will help you manage panic attacks.
What Is Almost Anxious And How Can You Handle It
As anxiety moves along the spectrum from normal to clinical, a gray area in the middle may still have a negative impact on your life: the almost anxious region. When the level of anxiety you experience is no longer adaptive or helpful to your performance and becomes a barrier to your enjoyment of life, but does not yet meet the diagnostic threshold for an anxiety disorder, you are almost anxious. You might find yourself struggling to focus your attention on tasks, distracted by negative thoughts, fear, or unpleasant body sensations. For example, someone who is almost anxious may sit at their desk all day, making minimal progress on an assignment due to constant worries and tightness in the stomach. While anxiety did not make it impossible to come to work, the level of anxiety experienced is making it hard to function. Using this concept of almost anxious can help you catch anxiety before it becomes too extreme, and target it using evidence-based strategies that help move anxiety back along the spectrum to an adaptive level.
When you find yourself feeling too anxious, try evidence-based techniques highlighted in the book Almost Anxious to bring your anxiety levels back to normal. Here are a few tools to try:
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Whats The Difference Between Anxiety And Being Stressed
The words stress and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably. So how can you tell the difference between common stress and an anxiety disorder? Both share many of the same physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, or rapid breathing. In both cases, your body is releasing hormones to trigger these symptoms.
Stress is a normal, proportional reaction to a stressful situation or external pressures. Its normal to feel stressed about a final exam or job interview.
When we talk about anxiety as in anxiety disorders, anxiety is a condition characterized by feelings of apprehension or unexplained thoughts of impending doom.
Another way to tell the difference between stress and an anxiety disorder is noticing how long your feelings of stress last. When stress lingers for days or weeks and prevents you from carrying out day-to-day activities, then you may be experiencing anxiety. You could be avoiding certain places or situations in fear of what might happen. You may even feel anxious about the fact that youre anxious. If you are having these concerns, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are common and manageable.
Lets Talk About Stress
For one, stress is typically defined as a response to an external trigger, and can either be acute or chronic . In an ideal world, the duration of the stress response corresponds with its trigger: Once a stressor has been dealt with, the body can return to its natural baseline state.
Acute stress. Remember the pit in your stomach from before? Thats an example of the stress response, which you might know better as fight-or-flight. When youre triggered by something stressful, your brain floods your body with hormones that push you to react: Blood moves away from digestive organs and into your limbs, allowing you to move more efficiently and quickly. Your heart beats faster and breathing speeds up, bringing more oxygen into the bloodstream.
Stress evolved as a survival mechanism, designed to make it easier for us to fight or flee from life-threatening triggers. Today, even though unreasonable emails do not warrant the same urgency as a hungry tiger on the savannah, our bodies dont know the difference. While stress might not feel great in the moment, it can still be helpful by motivating us to stay alert and take action when we need to.
In fact, the Yerkes-Dodson law in psychology proposes that moderate levels of stress are optimal for peak performance. We tend to talk about this state as being in the zone or in flow. Too little stress leads to low level performance, whereas too much is a recipe for needless fight-or-flight.
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