The Differences Between Stress And Anxiety

April 29, 2017

“What We See Depends Mainly On What We Look For.”

There are quite a few differences between stress and anxiety…

Stress occurs due to the increased pressures of life. Elevated pressure on mind and body triggered by people overexerting to complete tasks causes the release of adrenaline hormones; presence of this hormone for prolonged periods causes higher blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and other abnormal symptoms.

Anxiety may occur due to excess and undue stress or other factors. Anxiety is usually accompanied by fear, uneasiness, worrying, jitteriness, and withdrawal from a social life. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, pain in chest, panic attacks, and breathlessness, etc.

Differences between Stress and Anxietydifferences between stress and anxiety

1. Stress refers to the reaction of the mind and body to threatening or frightening events that upset the normal life routine. Stress causes release of adrenaline hormone by the adrenal glands; subsequently the defense mechanisms of the body get activated and symptoms like increased heart rate, tense muscles, elevated blood pressure, and dilated pupils, etc. are observed.

  • Anxiety refers to sensations of apprehension or uneasiness. All of us experience anxiety when we come face to face with a situation that triggers stress. It can be a worrying challenge of a loved one or the time before an interview or a test. Anxiousness when dealing with problematic scenarios is normal and mild levels of anxiety can often be useful and positive. However, excess anxiety tends to disrupt routine life in many people. Also, increased anxiety may occur with depression and other mental disorders. Anxiety is regarded as abnormal if it hampers daily life, is not triggered by stress-causing event, or is severe or chronic.

2. Stress occurs due to a stressor or existing factors that place undue pressure on the body and mind. It may be triggered by any event, thought, or situation that causes anger, frustration, anxiety, or nervousness. Stressors tend to differ from one person to another. Stress is temporary and disappears after removal or alleviation of the stressor/stressful event. 

  • Anxiety may be termed as stress which persists even after the stress causing factor is removed. It is a feeling of fear or restlessness that almost always occurs with a sense of imminent doom. The cause of such distress may not necessarily always be noticeable or known; this can lead to increase in the associated discomfort and anxiety. Mindfulness can go a long way towards desensitization in anxiety sufferers.

3. Physical symptoms of stress and anxiety are often the same and hence the two are confused with each other. However, stress-linked symptoms are short-lived and dissipate after stress-inducing situation is resolved. Sufferers may experience symptoms like persistent fatigue, pains and aches, increased pulse rate, crying, palpitations, poor appetite, anxiety, reduced sexual drive, and frequent infections.

  • Anxiety triggers a flight or fight response by the brain and body and release of stress hormones. This causes symptoms associated with stress as well as dry mouth, diarrhea, anger, insomnia, irritability, concentration problems, depersonalization, and increased fear, etc.

4. Stress occurs due to different kinds of factors that exerts increased pressure on the mind and body. Some people are more vulnerable to stress than others.

  • Anxiety is a disorder and can occur due to elevated chronic stress, PTSD, medicinal and recreational drugs, poor diet, and adrenal gland tumors, etc.

So contrary to popular belief there are differences between stress and anxiety, and they’re big. Stress is a reaction to something in some aspect of our lives, and anxiety is stress that keeps lingering long after the stressor has been handled. Knowing these differences can lead you towards a proven solution.

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4 comments on “The Differences Between Stress And Anxiety

  1. Kelly May 4, 2017

    You’ve pointed our some obvious differences between the two, stress and anxiety, but I guess you can’t have anxiety without stress, so could you say that anxiety is a side effect of stress? Or at least in some cases? I think sometimes worry and stress over an event (especially if it’s in the distant future) can turn into an obsessive anxious feeling. I’m about to fly with some bicycles for the first time, and I’m definitely a little worried about it – it was a very last minute decision, so I haven’t had much time to think about it, but I think if I had planned it months in advance the worry would have turned into more of an anxiety by now.

  2. Tyler Meredith Aug 28, 2017

    It’s interesting that stress is your body and mind’s reaction to an event while anxiety can be defined as general uneasiness when dealing with an event. It makes sense that these two things often have the same physical toll which is why they’re confused. This is something to remember because my wife has been dealing with a lot of stress lately because of how anxious she gets at work and I think it’d be good for her to understand the root of the problem to combat it more effectively.