10 differences between stress and anxiety

10 differences between stress and anxiety
With the rapidity in which our society advances and with the amount of things that we must do in our daily lives, it is normal for stress or anxiety responses to appear.

Generally, these two terms tend to be understood as the same concept, and it is not surprising, since they are closely associated with each other. Certain anxiety or stress responses are healthy and adaptive, however, the presence of these two responses in abundance can cause serious health problems or psychological disorders.

If you are interested in understanding these two phenomena so frequent in our lives and understanding those elements that differentiate them, keep reading this Transkerja.com article: 10 differences between stress and anxiety .

You may also be interested: 10 types of anxiety: symptoms and differences

What is anxiety?

The anxiety is a response means that our body is activated and play defense mechanisms in a given circumstance. Faced with this set of situations that generate anxiety, an emotional response is awakened, which will be variable depending on the stimulus produced by anxiety. This emotional response can be associated with feelings of restlessness, fear, nervousness and can cause excessive worries.

Anxiety: symptoms

The symptoms of anxiety may vary depending anxiety disorder that arises. However, they all share a set of symptomatic manifestations that can be classified into different groups. In general, anxiety symptoms can be classified into the following groups: physical, psychological, behavioral, cognitive and social, although the specific symptoms of each category are different in different disorders. Therefore, the symptoms of anxiety can be the following:
  • Psychological : fear of losing control, fear of dying, feeling of threat, desire to flee from the situation associated with danger, uncertainty or insecurity.
  • Behavior : people suffering from anxiety disorders are constantly alert or hypervigilant. On the other hand, impulsiveness, motor agitation or hyperactivity may occur. In addition, in anxiety disorders there may be a change in body expressivity or body language, rigid postures, voice changes, inaccurate movements, etc.
  • Cognitive : in anxiety disorders tend to occur problems of attention, concentration or memory. On the other hand, excessive worries and negative and irrational cognitions appear.
  • Social : anxiety can limit social circumstances, and may present irritability, speech blockages, tendency to isolation or difficulty expressing one's opinion.

What is stress?

Stress appears when the person does not have the adaptive capacity to adapt to the demands of the circumstances, that is, the person in these situations feels overcome and in the face of this stress responses appear. The stress response can lead to psychological and biological alterations, which can generate certain diseases over time, since stress has effects on the body .

Stress: symptoms

The presence of stress can lead to symptoms at an emotional, cognitive or behavioral level. The most frequent signs of stress and symptoms are as follows:

Emotional symptoms of stress

  • Loss of energy on a physical or psychological level
  • Low mood
  • Pessimism
  • Fear of being able to suffer from an illness
  • Anxiety
  • Lowers self-esteem
  • Emotional lability
  • Instability or restlessness
  • Tension

Cognitive symptoms of stress

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Mental block
  • Difficulty of acceptance in the face of criticism
  • Confusion
  • Ease of distraction
  • Frequency of forgetting

Behavioral symptoms of stress

  • Stuttering
  • Behaviors such as drinking or smoking in abundance
  • Nervous laugh
  • Nail bites or tearing your hair
  • Use of drugs, as tranquilizers
  • Increased physical activity
  • Bad eating habits

10 differences between stress and anxiety

Although stress and anxiety responses are conceived as synonyms, they are two different response processes. They may be related but they have several aspects that differentiate them. The 10 main differences between stress and anxiety are the following:

1. Origin

Stress maintains a clearly identifiable origin , as we have previously indicated, given certain situations that the person must face and feels that he does not have the necessary resources to be able to address it, he feels overcome, causing the origin of stressful responses.

In contrast, the origin of anxiety is more diffuse . The person can feel feelings of threat or fear, but without the need to know where it comes from, without being identifiable its origin. It is not necessary for an objective circumstance to arise for anxiety responses to be aroused.

2. Triggers

The stress triggers are related to the external factors that surround the person, to the circumstances that overwhelm him and provoke this stress response.

The triggers of anxiety are more internal , tied to our cognitions, to catastrophic thoughts or feelings of anguish and fear. It is based primarily on subjective fear, regardless of what happens abroad and tends to be worry and anticipation of improbable events.

3. Emotions presented

In stress, the predominant emotion is not fear, but concern about the stimulus that has contributed to the overflow of the person. This concern triggers irritability behaviors and feelings of sadness, as well as nervousness and feelings of frustration at the possibility of overcoming what is presented.

In anxiety, the predominant emotion is fear , the fear that something bad may happen , which leads to the person being constantly anticipating possible catastrophic or negative situations that can be triggered next.

4. Moment of appearance

Stress is clogged in the present, causing the time in which the person is stressed to be endless, feeling that he will not be able to overcome this situation and without finding an alternative to cope with it. As we have commented previously, the temporal space in anxiety is placed in the future , in the characteristic anticipation of catastrophic thinking .

5. Duration

Stress, being related to external factors, ends when the stressor disappears or is overcome. At the moment when the stressful stimulus has disappeared, the physiological and psychological state of the person tend to return to normal.

The duration in anxiety is more complex to understand. In the first place, because it is associated with an internal construction of its own, with irrational thoughts that the person has elaborated around an idea. Faced with this, the anxiety can be prolonged without a fixed end , totally depending on the reconstruction of the reality that the person executes so that said fear diminishes.

6. Symptom remission

Although the presentation of symptoms may be similar and share symptoms, the duration of symptoms is very different. In stress, the symptoms appear only before the stressful stimulus , for example, in front of the exam time, and once the stressful circumstance has passed or has been overcome, the symptoms disappear and the person returns to his normal state. In contrast, in anxiety, being associated with internal factors and diffuse triggers, it tends to perpetuate itself over time . In the same previous exam, the person at the end of the exam period will think that he could have done much better, in what will be his notes, he wonders how he will face another batch of exams, ... thus maintaining high levels of anxiety.

7. Objective intensity

In stress, the intensity of its presentation is more in line with the importance of the trigger, while in anxiety the intensity is more irrational , because there is a high intensity related to subjective factors that in other people would not cause Such an intense response.

8. Anxiety is underlying stress

Anxiety is considered a manifestation of stress, being an emotional response to it, a symptom. This relationship does not happen in the opposite direction. That is, stress produces anxiety , but it is not occasional that anxiety produces stress.

9. Severity

Although both stress and anxiety are two adaptive responses, normal and healthy, when they occur in excess can cause major health problems. However, the severity of anxiety is greater , and can cause psychological disorders such as: generalized anxiety disorder , panic attacks or phobias, among others. On the other hand, the severity of stress is not as intense and, in the face of its excess, it can influence the cause or aggravation of certain organic diseases.

10. Treatment

The treatment of both reactions differs greatly. Anxiety, being more persistent, requires treatment for remission. In stress, if this does not give way, the person can start a psychotherapeutic treatment with the aim of adopting strategies to cope with stress , on the other hand the treatment of anxiety tends to require a combined psychological and pharmacological treatment . As for example, cognitive behavioral therapy or drug treatment for panic attacks .

Differences between stress and anxiety: summary

Below, we show a table as a visual summary of the most important differences between stress and anxiety.