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Difference Between Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety Vs Stress

Being anxious is not the same as being stressed. You can be stressed-out because of being anxious or you can be anxious because you are under stress.

Stress is a broad experience that can surface due to multitudes of factors. If something happens which makes you feel angry, sad, worried, frustrated or even anxious then most likely you will be under stress.

Anxiety is more of a feeling of fear. The source of the anxiety is more on the nature of the cause. It is because you don’t know clearly the source of your fear or anxiety that makes you more anxious. You become uneasy and easily distressed. Because of this complex nature of anxiety, there have been many known forms of anxiety disorders which are now classified under the bigger umbrella of psychiatric disorders that manifest with too much anxiety.

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), panic disorders and phobias are all part of anxiety disorders. Those who suffer from these conditions will experience their symptoms surface everyday, anytime, anywhere. They may end up ‘losing their self’ because the symptoms may intensify to the point that it can already affect daily functioning like the performance of activities of daily living and how to handle relationships.

Anxiety can manifest through a several array of symptoms both physical and cognitive. Examples of physical symptoms are palpitations, increased muscle tension and fatigability. For the cognitive aspect, this includes trouble in concentration and inability to focus. When you are under stress, you can also have the same symptoms in anxiety.

Anxiety is more of a mental disorder rather than a feeling or a state. When the level of anxiety has already gone past acceptable levels (perhaps to the point of uncontrollable panic) then most likely it can already be described as an anxiety disorder. But first, symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months in order to rule in anxiety disorder. Stress is more of an experience felt internally.

You can be placed under stress both in happy and sad times. When you are going to get married, it is expected that both parties will be under serious stress because there are lots of decision making processes that have to be done. Having a divorce is an example of stress from a negative situation. Similarly, by simply being poor, one can already be under a state of stress. These good or bad events are what people call as stressors.

1. Anxiety is likelier to affect daily functioning compared to ordinary stress.

2. Anxiety is more of a mental disorder unlike stress which is more of an ordinary state or innate experience.

3. Anxiety usually has vague triggers while stress often has clearly identifiable stressors.


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