Anxiety vs. Stress

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woman looking stressed

We’ve all experienced the moment where we forgot our keys, missed a deadline at school or work, and argued with a family member.  These moments can be challenging, especially when we have a lot of other responsibilities on our plate. We may feel our heart racing fast, sweaty palms, back and neck aching, racing thoughts, and more. While many of these symptoms are shared by both stress and anxiety, it is important to understand the difference between the two because they each have distinct causes, which will make it easier to identify what is happening. If we can easily tell what we are suffering from now, we will be able to take preventative measures to ensure that we do not develop worse symptoms or an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety vs. Stress

While some of our physiological symptoms are the same with both stress and anxiety, the feelings are different. As explained by the Huffington Post, when we experience stress, we often feel frustrated and nervous. When we feel anxious, we feel fear, unease, and worry. Stress can also be good or bad for us – for example, if someone is feeling stressed out about taking a test, that stress may push them to study hard and be well-prepared for it. Anxiety, however, isn’t healthy because it causes us to be afraid of the future – something that nobody can predict.

As described by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is most often a response to stress. When a stressful event happens, such as getting into an argument with a loved one, anxiety may cause us to become fearful of the future and fearful of experiencing a similar argument with that same loved one again. Anxiety causes us to panic over something that might happen in the future, while stress is our natural response to direct frustrating or upsetting events that are happening now.

While anxiety and stress are different, they are also interrelated and can contribute to one another. Calm Clinic states that poor coping responses, hormone/neurotransmitter misfiring and negative thinking are potential causes for their intersection. The best way to deal with both the symptoms of anxiety and stress are to use breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, walking or exercise, healthy diet, and more. Seeking a psychologist may also be helpful to help you deal with the issues that are causing you stress and anxiety. By learning proper coping skills, we can better manage our daily stressors and can reduce our chances of developing an anxiety disorder.


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