Difference between Anxiety and Stress

Key Difference: Anxiety is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry. It can be rooted in any event that makes one feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is the normal response a person has to different, demanding stimuli in nature. Stress is a common response that a person’s body exhibits when it encounters situations that are different, overwhelming and demanding.

Anxiety and stress are two common conditions that a person with a busy schedule faces from time to time. There are various reasons for these conditions to occur, such as excessive work, sudden change in schedule, sudden alterations in life, or any unexpected circumstances. Though these conditions are similar in nature and have similar symptoms, they differ from each other.

Anxiety is a response to a stressor. You feel anxious when you are stressed, for example when you have to take a test or give an interview, etc. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry. It can be rooted in any event that makes one feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. The word ‘anxiety’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘anxietātem’, meaning “distressed or troubled.”

In small doses, it is healthy and useful, as it makes one alert and able to deal with the stressor. Usually when the stressor is removed or it is dealt with, the anxiety ends, sometimes it doesn’t, which can lead to anxiety disorders. There are various different types of anxiety including existential anxiety, test and performance anxiety, stranger and social anxiety, generalized anxiety, trait anxiety, choice or decision anxiety and paradoxical anxiety.

The most common symptoms of anxiety include a faster heart rate, skipped heartbeats, rapid breathing, cold sweat, nausea, trembling and dizziness. If the anxiety worsens, the symptoms may also include loose stools, frequent urination, dry mouth and problems swallowing. Feelings of anxiety are common in people who feel depressed and sad. Also, major life changes may bring on anxiety. These can include starting a new job or school, moving away, an upcoming marriage, having children, break-ups or divorce.

Stress is the normal response a person has to different, demanding stimuli in nature. Stress is a common response that a person’s body exhibits when it encounters situations that are different, overwhelming and demanding. When a body or mind is no longer able to deal with situations that it cannot handle, it becomes stressed. The word ‘stress’ a form of the Middle English ‘destresse’, derived via Old French from the Latin ‘stringere’, "to draw tight." It is when severe strain has been put on something it starts to show the effects of stress.

Stress is healthy in small doses as it helps a person deal with certain demanding jobs. During stress, a person’s body releases adrenaline, which allows you to make quick decisions, meet challenges and give you extra alertness. However, an excess amount of stress can strain a person psychically as well as mentally and can even cause suicidal tendencies. Stress is the most common precursor to anxiety and a whole lot of amount of stress can lead to chronic stress or anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of stress include faster heart rate, skipped heartbeats, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, dizziness, headaches, pain in the abdomen and muscle tightness or pain. When stress worsens, additional symptoms such as loose stools, frequent need to pee, dry mouth and problems swallowing my also occur. These symptoms are very similar to anxiety, which is why they are often used interchangeably.

In order to deal with stress and anxiety, there are various coping methods and treatments that are available in order to keep these conditions in check. Hobbies, relaxation techniques, exercises and various other means can help cope with difficult situations. In case of extreme forms, medical methods and medications are also available in order to treat anxiety and chronic stress.

Image Courtesy: disordersatschool.com, tucsonaz.gov

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