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Stress vs. anxiety: Do you know how to tell the difference?


Introduction

It can be hard to tell the difference between stress and anxiety. Both are characterized by a feeling of unease or being on edge, but that's where the similarities end. The causes of each condition vary widely, as do the treatment options and prognoses for recovery. So how do you know if you're stressed out or suffering from an anxiety disorder? We'll explore some of the key differences here so you can better diagnose yourself in the future.


Stress and anxiety may share some similarities, but they can be distinguished by the cause of the symptoms.


The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Stress is a general term that describes the body’s response to any situation you perceive as threatening or challenging. It can be caused by a physical or emotional event, or even just something you worry about happening in the future.

Anxiety is associated with more specific types of stressors, like those related to work or school performance, relationships and interpersonal interactions, health care procedures and finances. Anxiety can bring on feelings of terror or dread that occur when an individual feels out of control over their situation—or like there’s no way for them to control it at all!


Both stress and anxiety share common physical symptoms.


When you're stressed, you may experience physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, increased heart rate and muscle tension. You may feel nauseated or dizzy and even have a hard time breathing.

In contrast to stress-related physical symptoms (which are related to the body's "fight or flight" response), anxiety is often accompanied by mental symptoms such as worry, fear and irritability. These feelings can lead to more serious problems such as trouble sleeping or concentrating on tasks.


Long-term stress can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.


Long-term stress can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. It can also cause physical symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Insomnia or other sleep problems

  • Eating more than you normally would (or less)

  • Drinking more alcohol than usual (or less)

Smoking more cigarettes or tobacco products


Chronic stress can also lead to sleep problems, depression, or substance abuse.


Stress can also cause health problems. It has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and asthma. Stress may even lead to a weakened immune system and make you more susceptible to catching colds or the flu. Over time, chronic stress can also increase your risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.

In both studies and in interviews with people who feel they've had their lives disrupted by major events—a divorce or job loss—it's clear that many don't want their stressors taken away from them; rather they want better ways of responding to them so that they feel more in control of their lives again.


Anxiety disorders are more likely to occur in people who have experienced a traumatic event or who have a family history of anxiety disorders.


Anxiety disorders are more likely to occur in people who have experienced a traumatic event or who have a family history of anxiety disorders.

For example, someone who was sexually assaulted as a child may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares, avoiding situations that remind them of the assault, and feeling jumpy or on edge. Someone with PTSD might also experience extreme anxiety about everyday situations in which they could face danger again.

Another example is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by excessive worry for at least six months about several things such as work, money, health and relationships. People with GAD often also have physical symptoms like headaches or muscle tension due to their constant worrying.


Anxiety is often part of an ongoing pattern of intrusive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that interfere with daily life.

Anxiety is a mental health condition that affects 3 million adults in the U.S. each year. It can be a part of another condition or disorder, known as an anxiety disorder, or it can go by itself. People with anxiety disorders experience excessive worry and fear that are difficult to control.

Anxiety may cause physical symptoms like racing heart, sweaty palms and shortness of breath — but it isn't just about feeling nervous or afraid. The person is usually aware that these feelings are irrational and unnecessary; however, they still feel overwhelmed by them nonetheless (this is called "anticipatory anxiety").


Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that affects 3 million adults in the U.S. each year.

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that affects 3 million adults in the U.S. each year. If you have anxiety disorder, you may experience intense anxiety or nervousness, which can lead to physical symptoms like racing heart and shortness of breath.

But what are the differences between stress and anxiety? How do you know if it's normal to feel stressed out from time to time? And when is it time to seek help? In this article we explore the differences between stress and anxiety disorders—and how they can affect your daily life and wellbeing.


Knowing how to identify stress vs. anxiety may help you get the appropriate treatment.

Stress and anxiety can be distinguished by the cause of their symptoms. Stress is a reaction to an immediate situation or event, like being late for work or forgetting an important meeting. Anxiety, on the other hand, arises from a feeling of worry about unspecific future events or circumstances.

When it comes to managing stress vs. anxiety, there are some differences in approach as well: managing your reaction rather than changing the situation (as with stress) may help reduce your anxiety symptoms over time.


Conclusion

If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s important to get help. The first step is to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional so they can make sure that the symptoms are not caused by another issue. Once an appropriate diagnosis has been made, treatment options can be explored. If stress is causing your anxiety, try these tips for reducing stress and managing chronic worries:

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