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Difference Between Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety vs. Fear

If there is any difference between fear and anxiety, do you have an idea what it is? A lot of people believe there is no difference between the two at all because fear causes anxiety or vice versa. But studies show that fear and anxiety are two different things. They are interrelated but they are different in nature.

Fear and anxiety are both psychological experiences which means they both happen inside a person’s head. However, both can affect the physical activities of the person involved, but as with any kind of non-serious psychological condition, fear and anxiety disorders are curable. Moreover, you also have to know that the two are not dangerous in a sense that they are not fatal. In fact, the two psychological conditions are normally experienced by a person who is under a lot of stress. It is nature’s way of helping the body to cope with and react to sudden and dangerous situations.

Have you experienced that chilling feeling that dawns and stays on you when you stroll along the cemetery at night? Do you feel spooked? Have you had that feeling when someone or something frightening jumps out in front of you as you walk down that pavement in the dead on a dead night? Imagine the following scenario: You’re walking down that cemetery alone in a dark night then someone or something frightening suddenly jumps up in front of you. You’d immediately feel the need to protect yourself especially when that something or someone is up to no good. All your instincts would tell you to scream, to fight back, and to survive.

Biologically speaking, anxiety and fear is caused by three different things. Firstly, cognitive discrepancy which is the lack of fast emotional recovery especially when a person looses something very important in his/her life. Secondly, over stimulation, that is, when a person gets overwhelmed with the flow of information. And lastly a lack of response or a person’s inability to handle difficult situations. The separate situations mentioned above are the exact examples of how and when anxiety and fear kicks in. Now, can you already tell the difference? If you still can’t, here are the scholarly definitions (their similarities and differences).

Anxiety, to begin with, involves a lot of apprehension. It’s a sudden surge of overwhelming and unpleasant feelings that result from a person’s imagination or paranoia. In short, it’s not actual. It’s just a normal effect on how your colorful mind imagines things. It is a vague emotion based on distress and uneasiness. In other words it has no physical basis. The first situational example mentioned above is anxiety all throughout.

Fear, on the other hand, is objective. It only springs out when an impending danger is present. It’s a response to a definite threat. When a danger is immediate, your body will automatically react and instantly send neurons to your brains that commands and enables you to act. The second situational example mentioned above is fear by nature.



Fear and anxiety are interrelated but they are different. Fear may cause anxiety or anxiety may result in fear.

Fear is objective, it is based on physical phenomena, whilst anxiety is not physical and is based on apprehension.

Fear and anxiety only happens inside the head but can physically manifest itself by affecting a person’s day to day activities.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting article. What I find treating patients everyday is that fear is steeped in false beliefs which perpetuate anxiety. At the end of the day, fear is fear no matter how one looks at it. To overcome fear it must be faced!

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